Subway Chronicle I: Disappointment

Disappointment is a simple word. It is a big word too. It is the signpost marking so many turns.IMAG2361

Mostly I am disappointed in me, but I find it too much in others as well, those I know, pass in the streets, in the news and everywhere else. Today, I was on the 6 train northbound, and a young woman sat down, crazily smiling. I thought she had just remembered something funny, seen somebody, something like that, but her smile went on and on. She kept smiling crazily as she put on her chapstick.

A homeless man got on the train at Bleecker Street and made his appeal. “Anything you can spare, even a penny, whatever you can give helps us provide those in need with a sandwich or a bowl of soup.” He held up a laminated badge. Most everyone ignored him except the crazily smiling woman, who gave him a dollar. He bowed to her for that. “God bless you. I hope you get safely to your destination.” He made the rounds. No one else contributed. He bowed to the crazily smiling woman again. “God bless you. I hope you get safely to your destination.” I was disappointed in him making such a point of her dollar, weirdly damning the rest of us for not coughing up the money. (I doubted the soup story.) And I was disappointed in her for encouraging him to do it again – and take his “god-bless-your-trip” smiling still. Phone 005But in the end, when they both had gone and it was just me and all the other silent, staring people, I was disappointed in myself. I had done nothing and, worse, had stood stupidly in judgment of a smiling woman giving a dollar to a homeless guy. Ugh.

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