Big Ap­ple train en­counter more than meets the eye

Ken­neth A. Mcleod

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - YOUR HOLIDAY -

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.

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