SHOCK, AWE & OUTRAGE! Hilarious Mini-Melodrama on My Subway!

Shock, Awe & Outrage! A Hilarious Mini-Melodrama Enacted on My Local Subway!  #funny #subway #NYC #NewYork #humor

So then…I grab a seat, wedging myself between two other passengers on the subway car, as we barrel toward midtown Manhattan.

It’s not too crowded, so everyone has a seat as we calmly pass the time reading, avoiding eye contact, or staring blankly at the subway ads for plastic surgery and STDs.

Just then, a woman in her 50’s enters from the back of the subway car and quietly hands a pen to each passenger with a little note attached. She looks very sad as she works her way down the row of passengers.

The note says, “I am deaf. Please help me by buying this pen for $1. If you don’t want the pen, I will come back to pick it up. Thank you.”

Some people dig in their pockets and purses for a buck; others simply hold the pen until she comes back around for it.

She’s about halfway through collecting dollars or pens, when a conductor enters the back of the subway car and loudly announces: “Ladies and gentlemen, do NOT give this woman any money.”

Gasp! My head snaps up. Other passengers look startled! How heartless!

Is this subway employee going to tell us solicitations are against regulations? This poor deaf lady’s just trying to raise a little money!

The passengers stare at the conductor.

He continues, in a very cynical, world-weary tone, “This woman is not deaf. She has never been deaf. I have seen her speak and hear just as well as you and I. Do NOT give her any money.”

GASP! Now we all stare at the lady.

She whirls around and shouts at him in a garbled tone, “Howm day-ra you! I AMMN duffh! I AMMN duffh!”

DOUBLE GASP! She IS deaf!

How dare he accuse her of faking it! Just listen to her! She talks just like deaf people talk in movies!! Omigod, this conductor is cruel!

We all glare at the merciless conductor.

The conductor stares straight at her and says:

“If you’re deaf, how did you hear me say that BEHIND you?”

GASP GASP GASP!!!!

OMIGOD! Touché, conductor, touché!

Now our heads all whip toward the woman! Half of us are still clutching pens or dollars – mesmerized as this melodrama unfolds.

It’s like Wimbledon up in here with our heads whipping back and forth between the two players throwin’ down on the court of public opinion!

She scowls at him with an odious expression, turns on her heel, and storms out of the subway car into the next one in a blaze of fury!

He shakes his head wearily, then slowly follows behind her to thwart her next attempt.

As the subway door closes behind them, we all look at each other in awe.

We’re not sure whether we should applaud or not. It was like a mini-drama played out right before our eyes – a live street performance with a roller coaster of emotions encompassing pity, shock, anger, dismay, outrage – and finally the revelation!

Subway Theatre presents:
The Deceitful “Deaf” Lady
and the Crusading Conductor

Shows at 10:30, 2:45 and 4:15 daily
Admission: $1 (or not)

Damn, I love New York: every place, a stage – every person, a character – live theatre at its most authentic!

– Darcy Perdu

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(Heard of any similar cons or scams? Any interesting New York stories? Do tell!)

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48 replies on “SHOCK, AWE & OUTRAGE! Hilarious Mini-Melodrama on My Subway!

    • Thank you, Amber, your comment made my day! :o)

  1. I’ve see “homeless” people panhandling and pull out top of the line cell phones and then get into expensive cars. My dad also heard one man tell another in a coffee shop that he made almost $55k a year and didn’t have to pay taxes on it. I don’t even make $55K!!!!!
    ThatAshGirl recently posted..Fluffy Thing Friday – Motivational Kitty SketchesMy Profile

    • That’s crazy, right? Some people really do need help, so it’s frustrating when the frauds prey on the kindness of the public!

    • Judy P said:

      I used to work at college campus across from a homeless park. Many of the homeless would wander into our public areas to charge their cell phones, often pulling out a backpack or a notebook to disguise themselves as students. People whispered all the time about how could they afford cell phones so I started talking to them and asking them. Their families paid for them to keep in touch with them, to know they weren’t dead in ditch, or overdosed in an alley. The families still cared but couldn’t help whatever it was that man the person live on the street.

      I’m not saying there aren’t scam artists out there because for sure there are.

      • Judy, that’s a very interesting point about the cell phones. Makes sense.

    • Thanks, William! It was quite a drama on our little subway ride!

  2. Oh my gosh Darcy, that is funny. You know, my dog is kinda like that woman. Half the time I’m sure he’s deaf and the other half I know he’s lying.

    • He truly has a case of “selective hearing!”

  3. Enjoy reading your posts! I love visiting New York, it is always a wonderful experience in so many ways. I come home stuffed (yummy food!) with aching feet (walk everywhere).
    Meryl Baer recently posted..Memo to GEMy Profile

    • I love New York, too, Meryl! When I lived there, I walked everywhere too — AND I lived on the 5th floor of a non-elevator building! Girl, I was so skinnnnnny in New York! Even WITH all that great food! :o)

  4. Paul said:

    That used to be a commom con around here, but I haven’t seen it lately. For a buck, it really doesn’t make much difference to me. I’d give ‘em a buck without a pen. The bigger ones, I insist on a Charity registration number and then look them up on Revenue Canada’s charity site. It lists every charity in the country by name and number. They also give all the financials including percentage of collected funds that go to actual charity – it is sad sometimes – only 3 or 4% actually go to the needy. Ha! I ran across a young man on a sidewalk in Montreal one day and his line was: “I’m a lazy good for nothing, dirty bum. Will you donate?” I gave him a few bucks – he did well. I appreciate honesty. Ha!

    • Ha! That guy was very honest! I gave money to a guy whose sign said, “I’m on my way to becoming a millionaire! Only $999,999 to go!”

      • AinOakPark said:

        Ha! Since the economic down-turn there have been more people with signs at freeway off ramps and shopping center exits in our area. They have a variety of signs, claiming a variety of plights. I told my husband he could snag some extra cash with this sign: “Wife’s a Bitch. Need a beer. Please Help!”

        • Ha! He’d get LOTS of donations with that sign!

  5. Loved this! As a native New Yorker I’ve experienced my share of these scams. …like the guy whose house burned down the day he discovered he had AIDS, the same day his wife gave birth to twin infants he couldn’t feed … Diseased infants that needed an operation. Yeah … Five years later that dude was telling the same story!

    • Some of these people are such convincing actors — imagine if they auditioned for TV and movies!

  6. Fantastic story and well told (because you told it, of course)!

    I used to work with recovering addicts in Colorado Springs, many of whom had vast experience in panhandling. What I learned was basically NEVER trust one. There is maybe one in twenty who actually is being honest in their claims or haphazardly printed signs.

    The only ones that tempt me at all are veterans. Being a veteran myself, and currently also unemployed and broke, they get to me. I am simply lucky enough to have good friends to take care of me and am learning to use the VA system to help me.

    I also shamelessly beg for donations on my blog, which doesn’t work at all, but it’s there. Someone sent me $2 once, so that was cool!

    • 1 in 20? wow, I didn’t know there were so many frauds out there! Although I sometimes do wonder if there’s a place that sells those signs because they all look so similar!

  7. I was taken by a well dressed man and his broken down car. He needed gas money to get him home. Wife and kid in car and they all forgot their wallets at home. I thought it must have been tough to ask people so I gave.
    Two weeks later, same guy, same family, same story. I asked for my money back from the last week and they drove away.

    • omg – I HATE that! Similar thing happened to my friend — a guy said he was mugged and needed bus fare back home, so my friend gave it to him — then he saw the same guy a couple weeks later with same story — then I MYSELF saw the same guy a few weeks after that! ARGH!

      • Paul said:

        Ooo, Oooo, I have to tell you this one Darcy. I was waiting for a highway bus transfer in Toronto when a young woman came up to me and said she only needed $5 to have enough money for a ticket back to Ottawa, where I ahd come from. She had done her homework and even knew the ticket price.I knew she was just pan-handling but I gave her the $5 anyway, as she had done her homework and was pleasant. It was the last small bill I had in my pocket. She was only gone about 3 minutes when a shabbily dressed young man with a grumpy attitude came by with the same story. I asked him the ticket price and he guessed – wrong. I laughed and told him that I had just given my last $5 to the young woman. He was incensed and proceeded to tell me this was his turf and wanted me to point her out but she was gone and I wouldn’t have anyway. He kept asking why I gave her the money and then proceeded to tell me why it wasn’t fair, as he worked this station everyday and it was his turf. (Apparently the whole story of the ticket was forgotten in his indignation.)He started following me around and asking over and over why I was being so unfair to him. I told him that if he wanted the customers, he had to get up earlier, do his homework, get cleaned up and respectable and have a better attitude as she, his competition, beat him in all those categories. He was taken aback that the young woman had out competed him for donations. He walked away still mumbling that it wasn’t fair. Ha!

        • That is hysterical! Paul, only YOU would give tips to a panhandler how to panhandle better! It’s hilarious that he dropped his ticket scam to rail against unfair competition! Hey, free enterprise, baby! Step up your game! Ha!

    • Ha! Thanks! Want drama? Visit your local DMV. :o)

  8. You never know who to believe and who not to believe in a situation like that. It is easier to just hand her a dollar, and feel better about yourself that you did a good deed than to call her out and question her motives. I always tell myself when I am duped that she probably needed it more than I did regardless of how she went about it. The tennis match back and forth is hilarious… I guess everyone got to keep their new free pen that time.
    Michele recently posted..As Much As I Would Love To…. (a 10 point rant for this holiday weekend)My Profile

    • I agree, Michele, better to err on the side of kindness!

  9. Tais said:

    Argh, unfortunately this happens everywhere in the world.. I actually know quite a few beggars by sight, because they are always around, and I definitely have seen some “blind” or “deaf” ones or the ones that uses crutches but walk perfectly fine. The ones that really sadden me are those who use their children to prey on kind people. More common that I care to think.
    On the bright side (because this has left me depressive), hilarious story! No such thing as amusing tennis matches around here. Too bad, it would make awesome tweets.

    • Tais, there do seem to be lots of fraudulent panhandlers out there, but I guess the silver lining is that means that there must be enough good-hearted people out there who are donating money — so hopefully some of that money is given to people who legitimately need it!

    • Rena, what an AWESOME compliment!! That just about sums up my whole reason for writing!

  10. My mind was working overtime as I read. First I though it WAS a con yes, but the conductor was in on it and thru his “cruelty” people would give even more than the original dollar–then they’d split it later. Next I thought maybe she really was deaf and had a little compact in her hand that she used as a “rear view mirror” to read the conductor’s lips and wouldn’t he feel awful when he found out. Clearly, I love twist endings. And I loved this post and the accompanying image too. How’d you do that??
    Hope all is well,
    Stephanie
    Little Miss Menopause recently posted..I’m Normally Not Such a Busybody!My Profile

    • Thanks, Stephanie, love your twist endings! You need to write plays for my new “Subway Theatre!” Ha! Lately, I create my images on canva.com – easy and fun!

    • Seriously! With her acting skills, she could be on Broadway!

  11. Lady Anne said:

    As Judy said, some families do give their relatives cell phones to keep in touch. A member of our congregation had a brother who, due to severe paranoia, refused to sleep indoors. The family kept in touch with him via cell phone, but they got a lot of flak about not “doing anything” to help the man. It wasn’t that; he just preferred to live the way he did.

    I was in the Laundromat once when a man came in selling cards with the ASL alphabet printed on them. I was taking sign language lessons at the time, and decided to engage him in a conversation. He folded and left.

    There used to be a fellow with no legs who sat on a wooden platform outside a certain store, begging. My first husband got very, very angry when he saw a taxi pull over, the driver get out and lift the man into the front seat, and drive away. “If he can afford a taxi…ya-dah, ya-dah.” So I asked him, “Did you think the man was going to take the bus? Or just roll home?”

    And yes, I’ve also kept “charity” callers on the line, chatting, while I looked them up on the Internet and then told them I *knew* exactly how much of my heard-earned money was going into their pockets instead of helping the people they claimed to represent.

    Sorry to be so long-winded!

    • HA! I LOVE that you engaged in sign language with the guy and he had to give up his ruse! AND that’s a very clever idea to check the charities online during those solicitation calls! Smart thinkin’, woman!

    • Phil, glad you saw this one. Since you live in NYC, I figure you see lots of this kind of melodrama on the daily! :o)

  12. A similar thing happened to me recently on the Metro in my hometown, a bedraggled looking chap got on and stood glaring at everyone until the doors closed and the tram set off. It was at this point that the strong smell of urine started to fill up the carriage. He said only this: ‘I need money to get a shower tonight, if you all give me some change, I’ll get off. Otherwise you’re sharing this smell with me for the rest of your journey’ Bravo, Pee-man. Bravo.

    God dammit why does it not occur to me to blog about this stuff.. no wonder I’m failing :P

    • You DO need to blog about this stuff! And I agree — clever pitch, Pee-man, clever pitch!

  13. Deaf or not, it’s a pretty good scam. It’s better than shaking a cup full o’ change in your face, I’ve SEEN that play a million times! I would have given her a buck for having a new idea at least. In Chicago we have several creative people, on the way in to see a baseball game musicians line up to provide music of varying degrees. Some play guitar, one man plays drums on a bunch of over-turned buckets and one time? I saw a guy holding a radio! I mean hey, he’s providing you music, right? That guy got a fistful of dollars from me. A good idea’s a good idea!
    Joy Christi recently posted..BTS, ALS, ISIS, WTF: Attack of the Letters!My Profile

    • Bwahaha! I love the Radio Guy! Gotta hand it to him! Hilarious!

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