Central Park…first light
As I’m cantering up Harlem Hill, otherwise known as Hamilton Heights, since it’s Alexander Hamilton’s old neighborhood, I see a young boy perched on the grass, elbows resting on his knees, selling bottled water.
His cardboard sign reads…1 dolla got ice if you wan it
Suddenly a police car pulls up, one of the little ones that resemble a golf cart, a young Asian fellow at the wheel.
I slow up to watch.
He calls the kid over to the window. They speak, then the kid goes back to get his wallet from his backpack.
In 12 Step they teach you…there’s three kinds of business…my business, your business and what’s not my business.
Well, as I’ve said before, this is a deal breaker when it comes to the welfare of a child, the elderly or an animal.
I step over to the patrol car.
“Officer, good morning. Tell me please, is this young man in trouble?” The kid looks up sheepishly before going back to his perch.
The cop immediately becomes defensive. “What’s it to you?”
I know I have to be smarter than he is since his asshole brights are blinding my good senses.
She breathes before answering.
“I see he’s trying to make a few dollars, and to be quite honest, I admire him for it. He’s just a kid after all.”
15 if he were a day.
“You can’t sell anything in the Park without a permit.”
Did I mention it’s no later than 6:30 A.M.?
“I understand. Of course you’re right, but he’s not in any serious trouble now is he?”
“He’s getting a warning, and if you’re so concerned, why don’t you dig in your pocket and help him out.”
To be honest, I haven’t any cash and I doubt (I smile as I say this) he takes Visa. And also, it doesn’t look to me that he wants a handout. He’s legitimately selling water for a dollar. Yeah I know, without a permit, but still…there’s something noble about it, don’t you think Officer?”
He mulls this over as we both watch the kid pack up his cooler now on wheels.
“Imagine having to sell anything, for lunch money maybe. Could be me or you.”
“That’s why he only got a warning.”
His tone, so cold, I choose to ignore before taking flight.
I abruptly turn back, then think better of it.
I was all set to say, a young man a week or so ago hung himself off one of the bridges, but a little voice stops me knowing how upsetting it is to hear about it, even if Officer Asshole already knows.
Instead, I watch the kid wheel his water out of the Park, carrying his sign under his arm now upside down that reads…
1 dolla got ice if you wan it.
God blessing the child who has his own.