Romanian beggar on track to become a great entrepreneur

Bruce Watson

Riding the New York subway, one tends to become somewhat inured to human misery. On any given day, the average subway rider will be subjected to several loud requests for money, complaints about social services, veiled threats of violence, and tear-filled cries for mercy. While I am not a naturally hard-hearted man, I soon had to learn to put on my stone face when I dealt with beggars. To put it bluntly, even if I only gave each one a quarter, I would soon be bankrupt. Beyond that, I started getting a little irritated. After all, I was working for eight hours a day, so why couldn't they?

On the other hand, there is one group that I will always give money to: the buskers. Many days, my train ride is punctuated with Mariachi music, stand-up comedy, magic acts, feats of gymnastic skill, homeless doo-wop groups, and other entertainments that make the trip a lot shorter. My wife and I have developed a basic rule: if a beggar makes our ride home a little more enjoyable, he or she gets whatever we can spare. In the end, this seems like a fair trade.