Big Apple train encounter more than meets the eye
Kenneth A. Mcleod
I WAS on a train in New York City, travelling to Penn Central Station, when a well-dressed woman entered through the trailing carriage door.
She wore high-heel shoes and was wearing a beautiful dress. She looked as if she had just come out of a beauty parlour.
Her hair was immaculate and her fingernails spotlessly manicured.
She said: ‘‘ Ladies and gentlemen, could I have your attention please? My name is Mary O’Brien.’’
I immediately thought: ‘‘ Why, it’s Dusty Springfield (Mary O’Brien being the iconic singer’s real name).’’
However, she was not wearing the trademark Dusty mascara.
Also, she was alive and poor Dusty was at this stage well and truly deceased.
She went on: ‘‘ I am dying of cancer and I do not receive government welfare. I am going to pass among you for any donations. I will bless you for any donations you give and I will bless you even if you do not give a donation.’’
I was immediately hooked by the guilt trip – I had to give a donation as I could not accept a free ‘‘ blessing’’.
She then proceeded to walk along the carriage. Very few people gave her a donation. Most ignored her and stared straight ahead, read their newspapers or books, or listened to music on their headphones.
I gave her a $1 note. I assume I had received a ‘‘ blessing’’.
She then went to the forward door of the carriage and said: ‘‘ Ladies and gentlemen, could I have your attention once more?’’
I was the only passenger looking at her.
She said: ‘‘ God bless America.’’
Then she walked into the adjoining carriage.
No one seemed to notice her at this point.
A man next to me was reading his newspaper and I turned to him and said: ‘‘ Sad, isn’t it?’’
He crunched his newspaper up and said quite loudly: ‘‘ Sad, goddamn sad – she’s been dying for 10 years.’’
I stared ahead in silence for the rest of the trip.