Monday, April 20, 2009

...My Subway Encounter

Last night, as I was going home on the blue line from the This American Life Live at the Chicago Theater, I was asked by someone for change so he could transfer trains. I replied honestly this time, "I have no cash on me, sorry."

It was raining, I was wearing my fabulous yellow raincoat. (I can't find a picture of it, or even a link. I got it on clearance.)

Moments after he asked me for change, he said, "I like your coat."

"Thank you," I reply.

"What is it?" he asks.

"...I'm sorry?" I didn't know what he meant..I realize split seconds later he means, "Who is it?" as in, "Who designed it?" Which is odd to me, b/c didn't he just ask me for spare change earlier?

"..You know, like, is it designer?" he snaps back at me.

You know how you can have an entire inner dialog in about 2 seconds? Here's mine:
This guy just asked me for change. Is he homeless? Then he says he likes my coat. And he asks if its designer. Is he going to steal my coat? Maybe he's a student and is really without any change for a transfer? How can one's voice go from sounding like they are homeless needing change to sounding like they are a gay student at the fashion institute? God I hope he doesn't try to steal my coat.

"...Oh its not designer," I reply. "Its just from NY & Co."

Why did I even say where it is from? If he is homeless and wanting to steal my coat, it doesn't matter if its designer or not. But I said its not designer in hopes it would be of less value to him, making him want to steal it less.

He shoots me a look as if I just walked out of WalMart with a bag full of clothes I'm going to wear during NY Fashion Week because I think they look good.
"That IS designer!! New York and Company is like, the BIGGEST producer of women's the biggest in THE WORLD!" he informs me.

He then rolls his eyes, gives one of those scoff sounds from the back of his throat and turns to look out the window. (We were under ground at this point.)

Someone please tell me why this homeless fashionista is judging me because I don't think NY&Co. is a designer label. For your information, I got it on clearance for like 80% off the original price. Which at NY&Co, is pretty much the same cost as a transfer.


  1. LOL! He sure told you! I really don't think of those stores as designer. Even though Banana Republic and J Crew can be spendy, but they're still not designer!

  2. That is sooooo random!

    Maybe he was feeling embarassed about having to ask for money and felt like making fun of you would make him feel better about himself....

  3. this just plain too funny! You got a fashion policed by a homeless man!!!

  4. You can learn a lot about life from the homeless folks. What you learned here is that you looked so fabulous even homeless people notice. Great post.

  5. I'm with you, NY & Co is not what I would call designer!

  6. Maybe it was one of those wonderful experiences that remind us of our limiting perceptions and prejudices, such as "asking for change" = "homeless, thief, danger." It's funny that we are so thrown off by something like this, but everyone has a story and we forget how much we lock others into our own ideas of who they must be. It's a natural experience to be prejudices since we have to sometimes call these things in a moment's notice, but then sometimes, like the anecdote above, we get a chance to see past our prejudices. That's how I would look at this... Plus, it's just part of living in a metro area. I love this very same thing about New York City. Surprises abound!

  7. haha. great story, excellent writing :)

    dude. quit your day job and write for a living. you have an interesting life, lots of interesting interests, and you are a great communicator. write a book and design the cover. i think that counts as using your Purdue degree for something ;)

  8. Keep in mind most homeless people used to be just like us months or years ago. Perhaps he worked for NY& co and was laid off. Sounds like he knew more about it than the average man.