Subway Performers.. Entertainment or Nuisance?

Posted on: March 11, 2010

Anyone that lives in NYC and has ridden the subway at least once knows about the beloved characters that ask for money on the train. Some are informative, some are entertaining, some are annoying the rest are just lying. Now before you curse me out hear me out. I used to give them money all the time until I noticed it was 3 years later and they are still coming in the subway with the same story. There is guy that has 4 boys that he says are his sons he has them singing Beatles songs and tells the riders that they missed their dinner at the shelter and without money from us his kids will starve.. Hmm Lets think about this.. I have been seeing you for 4 years now and the kids are growing healthy so either you are lying or racking up some serious cash on the subway. You missed your dinner 4 years in a row? Lets see I know that they serve it at 6pm because that’s what you always say so how can you never remember that? hmm.. OK then there are the kids selling candy and snacks for the basketball teams. Yea OK. Some are completely honest and say they are just doing it for extra cash, the thing that gets me is that they are always wearing a $150 pair of sneakers and I am in my Airwals.. It’s not a typo they are so old they K has fallen off. Then there are the religious ones who feel the need to tell me that Jesus will save me,or give myself to Christ. Then my all time favorite…hence the sarcasm the dancers. I am all for Art and Creativity but when it’s on a crowded subway at rush hour going god knows how fast and my safety is at stake it makes it very difficult to be amused. I have always wondered if one of these dancers are doing a routine and kick you.. Can you sue? I would say probably not. It irritates me that they get on the train and see that people are concerned and the proceed to just dance and hang from the poles anyway. There were a set of drummers that got on one time and one of them made a sarcastic comment towards me. Now if I chose to slap him I would have been wrong. You never know what you are gonna get once you step on the subway. Just make sure in addition to standing clear of the closing doors you also pay attention for flying panhandlers.



4 Responses to "Subway Performers.. Entertainment or Nuisance?"

I only like Alice Tan-Ridley, Gabby Sidibe’s mom, I have happened upon her perform and she was great! Crowd engagement and all!

I dont like the African drummers, I’m sorry. I know they are a part of my history, but getting on a quiet rush hour train where we are all in our thoughts and then we’re stuck with you from 59th St to 125th is not a good look. Sigh…

as for Gaby’ mom I don’t think I have ever seen her. And I have been on the train to 125th with the drummers. when you are trying to have that good chunk of peace it really can be bothersome. There have been a few that are actually entertaining. There is one guy who rides the 2 and he plays guitar. He calls it the “Soul Train” he plays blues songs, and literally sings a song based on the people in the car at that moment. The ones just asking for $$ I can’t do it.. Thanks for reading and commenting!

It is so funny that you mentioned the subway and panhandlers & street performers; I was just thinking of how much I miss NYC and in someways these mainstays are part of what it means for me when I think of home. In some ways it can be rather annoying to (especially since…I really don’t want or need to be “saved”) but in others ways it is free expression, sometimes entertaining, and other times extremely sad.
If you take the same route and see the same people day after day they become part of your experience, almost friends as you watch them change with age, even though the story they tell might never change.

May I ask where you live now? There are those who are expressing themselves and I actually appreciate and support that. I have an issue when it becomes exploitative, or they use children. There was a man arrested and they wrote about in the paper he was riding the subway asking for money for his daughters funeral. Which was a complete lie. People would pull out $ to give him, who knows what he actually did with it!. Thank you for reading and posting!

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