Witnessing The Insane

It’s not uncommon to be on the New York subway in the company of a crazy person.  It’s free advertising after all, for their insanity.

Some ask for money, some just babble and I’ll admit, from years of bearing witness, I’m more than a little removed.

You often wonder, is this legit…another well-honed act, because despite how many times you are assaulted by the unexpected pounce, you just don’t know.

There’s the man who lost everything in a fire who asks for alms in English and Spanish, but Spanish so fluent you wonder why he can’t get a job at the embassy.

We have another fellow on the 6 Train who’s been needing 18 dollars to get back home since 1993.  He could have been around the world twenty times by now.

I’m a regular rider, so I see them all the time, but a tourist or visitor gets clobbered, wallets out, bills handed over.

But every once in a while, a poor, legitimate soul will even get to me.

Last night on the train, coming home, a kid maybe 16 got on. He was all shriveled, like a vegetable left in the fridge too long.  His right hand had that stricken fist suggesting a stroke, or some kind of permanent paralysis.  His legs were puny, the right half the size of the left.  What really spoke to me was his facial expression that looked as if he had been punched so hard, his face couldn’t get back to normal.

It was pain, false or otherwise, making me take extreme pause.

He was screaming for help at the top of his lungs, his bent legs dragging him down the car. I never saw that many people so clearly affected.

He was young, like a hurt cub, and in my heart, knew, this was not feigned.

Dollars came out like pennies from heaven shoving them in his one good hand.

He said nothing as he held them not even putting them in a safe place, as though he wasn’t even conscious they were there.

I sat there praying for him.

Suddenly my 13 hour work day felt like grace as opposed to a grind.  I remembered how I walked 30 blocks to get some exercise in…could this kid do that, let alone have a regular work day lasting that long?

My humility came and sat beside me whispering…Susannah, how blessed and blessed and blessed you are.

I got off at the 86th Street stop still hearing him screech in the distance.


About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Amazon.com. Thanks.
This entry was posted in New York City and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Witnessing The Insane

  1. Those sights can haunt you for a long time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Lord that is so sad…sometimes seeing or just reading about situations like this one come at the best times. I’ll be counting my blessings for the rest of the night.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Patricia says:

    We forget that our difficulties are often blessings and then we are reminded. How your heart must have shattered as you watched and listened to his pain.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. nikkispeaks says:

    I too ride the subway regularly too, and most of the times I’m unaffected and cynical. I’m glad that you weren’t so far removed, and felt compelled to help the young man in your own way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think we’re just conditioned as seasoned New Yorkers we see it so much. There’s someone with a sign sitting on every street corner it seems, asking for help. The trains are packed. This kid was really hurting, I’m certain you would also have taken pause, but many just hustle as a career I’m afraid. Thanks for writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Heartbreaking, the only word that comes to mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. micklively says:

    It’s a seriously fucked-up world we live in. Stalin understood: charity is not an answer; the state must provide. I won’t pick and choose between physical and mental impairment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That sounds a tad harsh Mick. Uncle Joe isn’t much of a role model,and the state makes offers many of these people reject. Shelters for instance are considered unsafe by a majority of the homeless yet there’s food and shelter. I don’t think it’s an easy fix here in the old USA.


  7. skinnyuz2b says:

    No one should have to live such a life. As far as government assistance goes, if just half the deadbeat fakers were removed there would be enough funds to sufficiently care for those who need it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. micklively says:

    I don’t propose Stalin as a role model; I like his ideal that the state should provide for its citizens. Is that harsh?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Elle Knowles says:

    I understand you have to be careful because there are some who take advantage of the public and even the system. But sometimes, as with this boy, you just know in your heart, it’s legit. ~Elle

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh my word! I am so glad people stepped up to help him. I know your heart must have cried out in pain along with him. I worked at a church for years, and we would get people coming in again and again, and yes, your heart does become calloused. When you see true pain and suffering, we recognize it because it resonates deep within us, and we all know that by grace that could be us. Your words never fail to move me, be it to tears, a deep sigh of recognition, or in laughter. I think of you daily and pray for you with each thought, DAF


  11. Wow, talk about a jarring dose of perspective to truly make you thankful. We all need that from time to time. Hopefully he can get some help in a more stable situation.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.