The Homeless Are Not Tourist Attractions

Dear Diary,

Unlike my usual entries, here is one that is thought-provoking and more sombre. As we get more and more tourists visiting the big ol’ Apple, I find it interesting how many are so blissfully ignorant about how life is beyond their bubble.

Ohhhh… Spirit of America…..
The 1 train from my station was FLOODED with several tour groups, mainly one from The Spirit of America. That group alone took up literally 5 subway cars of space and they were waiting to pour into the train during rush hour. All you can see was a mob of white anglo folks, blond and brunette, coming from what seems to be mid-west America.

The 1 train station near where I live is generally crowded during rush hour. Now… imagine there are 5x more people (all tourists) who have no idea where to stand, how to get in the turnstiles, where to walk when NY’ers such as myself are rushing to work. It’s like having a big herd of docile sheep in the path of a Spanish bull run.


The homeless are not NY attractions.
Swiftly thinking on my feet, I decide to go down further on the train platform to avoid the enormous milling crowd. Accidents are bound to happen when there are too many people (who are not aware of personal space) standing at the edge of the platform so I avoid it at all costs. That also means that I have to make sure I still make it within the first 5 cars of the train before I get to my destination, as it’s a short platform so the doors won’t open when you get to World Trade Center.

I was secretly hoping that the giant tourist group would have vacated somewhere on 42nd street, 34th street or even Union Square…. but alas, as I was moving from one car to another, I saw that they were still there, packed like a can of sheep sardines (if there was such a thing).

As I squeezed myself into one of the cars, and waited for the doors to close, but it stayed open for about a minute to allow other passengers to make their move. I turn to see one of the tourists next to me – a pretty young girl with light blond hair, standing closely with her flock of friends, was looking out the open subway door, with this curious look on her face.  She giggled, nudged her friends, then said, “look…! a homeless person!” and snapped a shot of a her with her iPhone. The said homeless person was a petite hispanic woman, seated quietly at the end of a subway chair and looking away from us. Next to her were mountains of plastic bags filled with her belongings. She looked like an urban sculpture.

At that very moment the teenager said this, I almost turned around to this teenager to tell her quietly that homeless people are *not* tourist attractions, and that she should think first that if she was in such a condition and someone had giggled and snapped a shot of her, how that would of her made her feel.

But I didn’t. Somehow I felt it was pointless.

She is fortunate enough that from her pretty looks and her wardrobe, she’s very well cared for and protected. She wouldn’t understand what it would be like to lose everything and yet still try to survive on the streets, especially going into winter. With the recession continuing its long It would be a karmic irony however, if she should end up on the streets of NYC down the road like so many other young travelers, out of money and luck, sitting on the street corner panhandling with a cardboard sign.

Then I would wonder how she would feel, if someone snapped a picture of her and giggled, “look! a homeless person!”.

Thanksgiving is nigh, folks…. If you see a homeless person, please give and pray that they find shelter before the winter really sets in.

Little Reiko and (dieting) Turkey.

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