We went up the island reverse-trick-or-treating with a bag of juice boxes, granola bars, paperback books and and pop tarts this morning. Several places were giving away or selling cheaply bread, produce, and anything else that would spoil. A camping goods store was giving away energy bars and fruit snacks, advertising loudly that they were open for business. All along the streets in Soho, homeless men and a couple of women were digging through trash cans or camped out with cardboard placards. By the time we got to Washington Square Park, we figured we’d pass out most of the remaining food and juice to the regulars who hang around that park, dealing three-card monte, doing heroin, playing chess, or just sitting quietly and reading yesterday’s Daily News. I made the rounds, making a point to hit the freegan kids last (there’s something about people who choose the homeless life as a political statement that sucks a lot of the charity out of me, but they took some books, which made me happy). Just before we left the park, I went up to an old guy sitting on one of the concrete pilings that keeps people from driving their cars into the square, who looked like he was crying.

“Hey, man, do you want something to eat?”

He looked at me for a second like I had three heads, then he smiled. “No, I’m fine. I’ve got money. Do you want some money?” Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a huge wad of bills and what looked like ATM receipts—twenties, tens, hundreds—and fanned them like he was asking me to pick a card. “See? I’ve got hundreds here. Hold on.” He shuffled through the cash until I could see several hundred-dollar bills in a little cluster near the middle of the fan.


Author: samthielman

Sam Thielman is a reporter and critic based in Brooklyn, New York. His blog is samthielman.com, his twitter handle is @samthielman, and if you can't find him you should check The Strand.

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