Thingish Things

The Magi on the F Train

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Dec• 19•11

A dear friend submitted this to The New York Times for its Metropolitan Diary Section last year, but it was submitted too late for publication. I was bummed when I heard that, because I loved the story and thought it was perfect for the section — and the season. 

A few weeks ago, my friend got a call from an editor at The Times, saying that she had thumb-tacked the piece to her bulletin board a year ago to remind her to run it this year.  She did, and it ran today. Proves that a good deed, like a good story, has shelf-life. 

          Dear Diary:

A few days before Christmas a year ago, I was on the F train riding uptown. At West Fourth Street, a young man boarded with a boombox. He explained, loudly and enthusiastically, “I’m trying to stay out of trouble tonight, so I’m offering you a dance, like we do it in the Bronx.”

Only a few of us looked up. Then he plugged his iPhone into the boombox and proceeded to dance his heart out. This included a few back flips, trapeze moves with the handrails, and body spins on the ground with just one hand. By this time all eyes were glued on him. A young boy next to me yelled out in sheer delight: “Wow — that’s amazing!” We all shared his sentiment. 

Many passengers gave generously when he walked by with his donation container afterward.

Just then, at the other end of the car, a homeless-looking man boarded with a plea for help. He was disheveled and without any dance routine or music act to offer. All he had was a wish for kindness and an outstretched hat — one that remained empty among this group of recent donors.

That was until, just before the doors were to open at the next stop, the dancer went right up to the homeless-looking man, spilled out all of his earnings into the outstretched hat and said, “Merry Christmas, man.”

Christina Daigneault

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