This morning as I headed to the bagel store, I noticed a woman lurking at the entrance observing me. It was clear she was poised to speak and based on her appearance I gathered she was indigent. (Okay, I know, I know, first bad thing- do not judge people by how they appear. Four namastes and a hair shirt for me.) Anyway, this woman appeared to be a little not all there. She was neatly and cleanly dressed but had a couple of overfull shopping bags. (Always a tip off for New Yorkers.) I didn’t want to be accosted, although not so unwilling I would forgo bagels. So as I neared I put on my “stranger face”. We all have one, and I have many variations. There’s the “Don’t fuck with me I am a badass despite my yoga clothes stranger face.” The “If you’re lost and don’t speak English I will have patience for you for up to three minutes while I explain to you where the Ghostbusters Firehouse is stranger face.” And of course the “I know you have power tools and appear to be working on a construction site but if you say something rude I will scream at you like a banshee but secretly be pleased because I’m not twenty five any more stranger face.” In this case I reserved the one I use for people asking for money and when she said to me “Can I ask you something?” I replied “Good morning” and sailed by into the bagel store -whereas I promptly felt like shit. She clearly needed something and I blew her off.
So, I bought my bagels, tucked a well intentioned small bill into my hip pocket and headed back out. She looked at me with defeat, knowing I was that savvy New Yorker who said “good morning” instead of stopping. To her credit she rebounded quickly when I stopped and said “I apologize. Was there something you wanted to ask me?” She immediately replied, “Yes, I was wondering if you could loan me some money.” I, even quicker than she, whipped the bill I had put aside out of my hip pocket and told her I was happy to give it to her, and there was no need to repay me. I then asked her if she would like a bagel.
Her response was; “I don’t like bagels. I like muffins.”