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thought i was a donut, ya tried to glaze me

8.23.2009

New York is a Beautiful Place

I was inside a 24-hour deli on Amsterdam and 81st at 7 in the morning when a kid just a few years older than me walked in the door. He had a backpack and was holding a cardboard sign that basically said he was homeless, new to the city, and needed food or money. I waited on line to pay for my waters when he asked the guy behind the counter, "Hey boss, how much for a 40 of Steelie?"

"Three."

"Three what?"

"Three Dollars"

He looked disappointed then asked, "How bout a tall boy?"

"A what?"

"Tall boy?"

The guy behind the counter looked confused so I helped clarify. "A tall boy--22 ounce. In a can."

"Oh. Two."

So the kid grabbed the tall boy and all I could think was, "$3 for a 40 of Steel Reserve, that's damn near highway robbery, even if we're on the Upper West Side" so I reached into my back pocket and handed a dollar bill to the kid.

"Here," I said, "Upgrade it."

He looked grateful, more grateful than he should have, and after taking the bill he lifted his hands up in the air and said, "New York is a beautiful place! A beautiful place!"

He turned down my offer for food--no coffee, no buttered roll--saying he was all set with the 40.

"It's a beautiful place!" he said again. "Expensive as shit but a beautiful place!"

I wished him luck and walked outside, in the sticky, hot heat, and even though there was garbage on the ground and I had just paid $8 for 5 Vitamin Waters, I kept thinking in my head: this place is a beautiful place.

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I wonder if my writing has even improved?