Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Pashmina Wars Update

The pashimna wars continue on 52nd street. The vendor who had the blowout a few weeks ago was, indeed, making room for new stock as he has expanded into selling scarves and cashmere gloves. Meanwhile, the other vendor has learned the value of good advertising. He now has a sign saying "Brooches $5. Best Buy. Buy Now" and he has also expanded his product line. In addition to $5 pashminas, he sells more elegant embroidered pashminas for $8 each or 2 for $15. I love to watch the free market economy at work.

This morning a homeless man grabbed me and asked me for $5 to help the homeless. My first thought was "$5? wow, inflation has hit everywhere." I wanted to give him money, but I wasn't sure how that would help all of the homeless, and not just him. Instead, I dropped a few dollars in one of the many United Homeless Organization (UHO) jugs that have sprung up around town over the past few years. I'm not even sure if they are a legitimate organization, but their rickety folding tables, used water cooler jugs, and the scruffy people they hire to shout at passerby lend them an aura of credibility that I find reassuring. Their pitches seem to be largely self-authored. For example, the LL Cool J look alike that sits at 45th and 6th encourages people to donate with an endless stream of banter. "Just one single penny, one nickel, one dime can help feed the homeless," he shouts, "Won't you find it in your heart to help feed the homeless?" By the end of his shift, he sounds frustrated and I'm always waiting for him to crack and start saying things like "Its just a motherf***** dime you cheap bastards." For my money, the single most annoying worker I've ever seen whined the following verse over and over. "Does anyone care?.....Does anyone care?....Does anyone care......(long pause, big finish)....Out there?" It stayed in your head for days and made you not only not want to donate, but to actually consider taking money out of the jar just for having to listen to her.

All jokes aside, it's getting cold out there, so do what you can to help the homeless in your area.