When you descend below the surface in New York City, your morality may descend as well. People that want to take advantage of you meet the people who are vulnerable to be taken advantage of in this dark playground. With everybody engrossed in their phones, we are all targets. An easier mark however is the person who takes themselves out for you. As is often the case down below, imbibing alcohol is the most popular method of asking to get jacked, to get popped, or to have your funds boosted.
Case in point. I’m at the West 4th A train stop about 3 am after playing the Blue Note Jam Session in the early 90’s. Street life in New York City in the 80’s being the stuff of legend. I’m tired and take a seat ignoring the passed out older man at the edge of the bench. This man demonstrates the classic subway drunk. Bizarre posture with one leg sticking out straight. Head leaned back. No way this can be comfortable. He’s swaying ever so slightly mumbling the word “Bitches”. What really sets him apart is that one of his shoes is half off and there is a crisp $100 dollar bill on display folded over on his inside trench coat pocket for all the world to see. This cat is a custom-made target. I’m going to pass this morality test and just leave him be. That should be enough right?
Here come 2 woman stumbling by drunk as hell. One was wearing a black leather mini-shirt. The other one could be wearing what must have been a wig. There leaning on each other and carrying on. As they stumble by the woman with the wig takes notice of homie with his loot on full display. About 20 feet past us the woman with the wig stops and tells her partner.
“We should rob him.”
After a little whispering they creep on back. Oh shit, here comes the real morality test for yours truly. I cannot deny that deep down inside my own darkness I considered liberating Benjamin Franklin myself. The plan hatched, the two ladies creep over and gently peel his fresh cash from his inside pocket. I openly fail the morality test by merely watching this go down out of the corner of my eye. Having scored their prize the two woman tip toe off trying not to bust out laughing. Wow. All I could think of was homie coming to and wondering just where his booze funds had escaped to. End scene right?
Unsatisfied the two woman pause again 20 feet away. One of them then says, as they both keep on laughing,
“We should take his shoes.”
Again they creep back. Where was Richard Pryor? He would have dug this. Like 2 expert shoe salesman they gather around homie’s feet. One woman gently lifts his leg while the other carefully peels off his shoes.
“Bitches”, the man mumbles again. “Bitches.” He most likely was cursing out someone in his dreams unaware that his drunk mumbling was now the only defense he could muster.
With both of his shoes and his cash in tow, the two woman disappear into the night. I can hear them laughing from far down the platform. As my train finally arrives homie comes to and looks around confused. Unaware that he has been picked, he asks me as I step to the train if I have seen his shoes.
Having truly now failed the morality test all I could say was,
“Sorry man. I think you got picked.”
The whole thing reminded me of one night when I parked my car downtown with all my clothes in it. The next morning a guy came up to me WEARING MY CLOTHES, and said.
“I think somebody busted into your ride man. Can I have a dollar?”
Even Rats will pick you off..