Last week I started going back to my painting class on Mondays & Tuesdays. This past Monday was very cold, so I rushed to the train station after class. Since I get out late, I expect to wait longer than usual for the train. I sat on the bench, between a woman & a man. After about a minute I smelled a rancid, sour smell. I knew it wasn’t the man because he was well groomed. Then I saw the woman’s hands as she played a game on her cellphone. Her nails were encrusted in dirt. She shifted in her seat & the smell spread. I seriously didn’t take her for a homeless person. I pinned her for a traveler since she had a carry-on sized suitcase, which was in good condition.
When the train arrived I got on. It was a bit crowded, but I managed to get a seat. As people got off at their stations I came to realize there were five homeless people in the car I was on. One man was sitting in front of me, previously blocked from my view by the standing crowd. There was even an older couple on the far front of the car. A few stops into my ride, another homeless man came in from the next car, begging for change or food.
The cold weather makes these situations more visible. Sadly it’s been getting worse over the past few years. It’s almost as bad, if not worse than when I was a kid. I remember seeing what looked like cardboard cities under building scaffolds, on church steps, & train stations.
Feel free to post comments or share similar experiences, whether in NYC or elsewhere.