The Land of Lights, Cameras, Action,
Where some punk was sitting on his trunk holding a sign that read: ‘CUP of SOUP?’
It was right after 7 O’Clock that I had chosen to claim stake to a spot just outside Starbucks @ 48th.
Below my sign, between my boots, was a 10 Ounce Paper Cup.
Inside was a quarter, a dime, and a nickel, and though I’d only been there about 15 minutes
I was beginning to wonder whether or not I was completely wasting my time.
“Comedy Show, folks – Live Comedy,” said the guy as he walked by, selling Tickets for what appeared to be the main attraction.
The guy at the corner Hot Dog Stand was even giving me the eye, as though to ask: ‘What is this White Boy trying to pull with that sign?
And meanwhile, over and again, people were walking past, every now and then, whispering under their breath:
"Cup of Soup?"
"Cup of Soup."
"Cup of Soup…"
I was sitting cold, hoping to keep my blood flowing
While looking up and watching the Supermodels on one of the screens,
Modeling their good looks as they were walking towards the camera and towards me…
“Oh my God, get a f*c*i*g job,” said some broad in passing.
And a girl!
I didn’t even look at her.
And whether or not one agrees with her, the fact of the matter is that I was sitting there in the freezing cold with broken boots, a coat with a busted zipper, and an expression of genuine hunger on my face, when Along Comes Polly in all her Ugly, at 7 O’Clock at night, ordering the Local Ragamuffin to get a job.
Did she consider that I hadn’t eaten that day?
Did she contemplate the possibility that I am psychologically challenged? ;)
Did she assume I was only looking for money in order to buy High Octane Cocaine, Propane, Sugar Cane and Fire to fuel my Burning Desires, so inconveniently put on hold right there @ Starbucks, Times Square?
“Hey, you want a Hot Dog?”
It was the guy running the Hot Dog Stand.
I think he must have overheard that girl say what she said.
In either case, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a Hot Dog.
One could say Hot Dogs were excluded from the Dietary Plan.
“Hell yeah I want a Hot Dog,” I said, thinking how that was then and this is now.
“Mustard?” he asked.
“Mustard,” I answered.
As he returned to his stand, I was wondering why he didn’t offer Ketchup when another lad passing by, stopped, turned from my sign to the Hot Dog stand, and said:
“You want a Hot Dog?”
2 Hot Dog offers within nearly two seconds. Not bad, I thought. But I wasn’t going to let myself get carried away here. The last thing I wanted right then and there was a stomach ache.
“No, but thank you, sir,” I said, “Believe it or not, I’ve got one coming.”
I nodded my head over to the guy who was putting on the mustard.
“You want a Soda?”
“A Soda?” I asked, trying to remember the last time I had a Soda. “No… Thanks, though.”
But he wasn’t happy to hear this, and having another look at my sign, he asked:
“Does Starbucks sell Soup?”
It was a good question that had also occurred to me earlier on that night, during some of my more idle moments.
“To be honest, I don’t know…”
Just like that, the guy disappeared in Starbucks.
Just like that, here came the Hot Dog, which vaporized in my stomach instantly.
Just like that, the guy came out of Starbucks.
“No Soup,” he said.
“Don’t worry about it, sir,” I said, “Appreciate the effort.”
And while he was standing there, probably wondering why it simply had to be Soup, he said:
“You like Pizza?”
Though I don’t recall exactly, something tells me my expression at that very moment betrayed me.
“I like Pizza.”
It was a lie. I LOVE Pizza. And as far as I was concerned, NYC Pizza was Pizza at its very best.
“I’ll be back,” he said, and like the Terminator on a very peculiar mission, he marched down the street.
“Here kid,” said a guy, dropping a Fiver in my cup. “Go get yourself a Cup of Soup.”
“Thank you, sir,” I said.
So far, it was the loudest thought I’d had all night.
In a daze, I took it out the cup and put it in my pocket, trying to figure out what had so suddenly turned on.
And then along came the Police.
“Here son,” said the Police Man, “Hand warmers. Shake ‘em up and hold on.”
“Thank you, officer,” I said.
I was doing as the man told, when a young boy walked by and dropped two dollars in my cup.
Just then, a black girl walked by and peeked into my 10 Ounce Vessel, taking special note of the Green.
“Never leave the Bills in your Cup,” she said, “That’s what my father taught me. Leave the Coins, but take the Dollars out of the Cup.”
And amazed with yet another side of NYC, unveiled unto my eyes, I said: “Thank you, miss.”
I let go of my hand warmers to reach inside and remove the two dollars, as she hit her clenched fist to her chest and walked right along.
“Hey,” I called after her.
When she turned, I clenched my fist and hit it to my chest.
“Do you like Pasta?”
This lady was standing between two other ladies,
Also smiling down upon me,
Holding a bag that read: ‘Carmines,’ - an Italian Restaurant that was just down the street.
“I like Pasta…”
Over the next three hours, the transactions were happening so fast the guy at the Hot Dog Stand had started saying –
The procession went something like Hot Chocolate, KFC Chicken Wings, Coffee, 5 Dollar Starbucks Gift Card, Egg McMuffin, 3 Slices of Pizza, Tea, Hot Chocolate, Coffee, Double Cheeseburger, Salad, French Fries, Hot Chocolate, Coffee, Hot Chocolate, Coffee, Hot Chocolate -
“Hey how ‘bout some Pizza?”
I thought of the large bag behind me and how it was filled to the top with food.
“You know what,” I started, “Someone gave me some pizza not too long ago, but thank you anyway.”
The guy stood there as though he couldn’t believe what he’d just heard, while two ladies remained waiting on him in the background.
“So… You don’t want the Pizza?”
I resisted the urge to look at my sign.
“No, but thanks,” I said, only then aware that this guy, along with the rest of the folk of NYC were not only able but willing and wanting to reach out and help someone in need.
The guy returned to his girls. They were looking at the Pizza Box, still in his hands. He shrugged and explained:
“He didn’t want the Pizza.”
Both of them started busting up laughing and the three of them went along their merry way while I stood up and stretched.
“Here,” said a guy, holding out a Top Ramen Vessel that read: ‘CUP O’ NOODLE.’
The Devil inside me wanted to yell at him: ‘CUP O’ NOODLE!?’
Then point to the sign and yell:
‘The Sign Says: ‘CUP of SOUP!’ ’
But I thought that overall it would have made for bad show, and so I just nodded, accepted and politely added:
“Thank you, sir.”
I ducked inside Starbucks and ate the Salad.
Having kept track of the dollars, I knew I had something in the realm of $27.00, which though very well might have been beginner’s luck, it at least make the Minimum Wage Cut.
Finishing up my greens, I picked up my bag of food. I estimated it must have weighed 15 lbs. Of course, I had not been, nor had any intentions to eat all the food and drink that I had been given. Being a rider of the streets, I knew just the place to take it to.