There’s an unrelenting crowd of bodies making their way along a sidewalk all too narrow for the mass of humanity negotiating it at this time in the morning. The off-white concrete is speckled with ground in gum and the occasional paper floating between shuffling feet. A conglomeration of half-dressed suits sporting loose ties and untucked shirts is met by yoga pant wearing, post-elliptical treading types converging on a corner crowded by a coffee cart serving a combination of hardhats venturing from the sandhog pits and polo shirt clad retailers. It is devoid of a stereotype save for the fact that in the grander scheme it’s the exacting stereotype of the New York City commute.
In the entrance way are several men hawking the local free rags. Newspapers whose circulation suffers not from the proliferation of technology nor the deterioration of literacy, but rather thrives on the exact scenarios that typically treat traditional media with terror, free distribution. Recollecting back to the newsies era of corner crooners under-compensated for their unique ability these men relentlessly pry focused eyes from their determined route and place copies of bleeding ink recycled media into the antibacterial fists of passerbys.
Despite the lingering smell of stale urine and burnt out cigarettes with that of post-work out BO and a wafting extradition of perfume, they work within the crowd. Perhaps the aroma of the coffee carts keeps them inspired. Perhaps it is the view of the passing characters that’s inspiring. Chances are the occasional thank you or even glancing accepting smile is what they’d say makes it all worth while even as they return home with barely enough money from passing out papers to pay for a meal for themselves, never mind their other family obligations. Chances are, they’re resentful of half the routinely spouted thanks and obligatory glances but accept them for what they are and are more determined to earn their keep than worry about some passing respect that might be earned by doing what? What even, since even those accepting their token gesture of a free paper wouldn’t even know.
Their whitening beards are offset starkly by their skin, darkened and weathered by their years standing painstakingly in front of that same subway entrance. Gruff voices straining over the crowd, effective from years of practice shouting over overcrowded apartments, on over-vocal streets, in a city that never sleeps because noise is an addiction in-and-of-itself.
In a crowd they should be alone, but aren’t. They share a comradeship in their plight despite passing out different papers and being different from whom they pass to. It’s a delicate ballet to negotiate the patterns of prospective yet they find peace in its ritual. They are slaves to the ritual but a ritual that’s not without its dynamics. Not anyone can sit with a smile and seemingly effortlessly hand out rolls of toilet paper quality reporting as if it were the last word in worldly knowledge.
Repetitive acceptance should provide solace but it doesn’t. The recurrent structure of