Scene on the Subway.

The homeless man on the subway stooped down to pick up his prize, tested it to see if it still had juice. He flicked and produced a flame, a treasure in his trove. He went to put it in his pocket as the lady sitting next to him said, “Oh yeah, oops, that is mine.”

A little defeated, he handed it back to her, thinking to himself, “Bitch.”

I watched all this from my spot across the way, thinking, “Dude. It’s a 79-cent lighter. Let the man have his fire.”

But instead of hearing my telepathic judgmental diatribe, the woman opened her purse, put the lighter inside, and went back to reading her book.

I looked at the man, who actually looked pretty clean for someone living out of trash bags. He had his health, or at least he appeared to, and that is always something. He rocked slowly back and forth, leaning on his push-cart full of other people’s garbage that now comprised his life savings. He had boxes and bags and things all packed away neatly into two granny carts, but he didn’t have a working lighter.

The woman sitting next to him finally came to her senses, pulled out the orange lighter, and handed it to him, asking, “Would you like this?”

And he nodded, gratefully, yes, yes I would.


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