A nod to a subway charity ambush

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What’s the only state that ends in a ‘K’?

That question was posed to me as I walked up the stairs from the subway platform to the concourse. I had just finished a sweaty workout at the gym, which followed eight hours of work, and I was focused on transferring trains and making home to my bed.

But an excited man in a three-piece suit approached me to ask.

Normally, I’d smile, nod, say “no, thanks” and carry on to my next train. But I was intrigued. Honestly, I thought I was going to be on an ambush-style game show. I looked great — scraggly hair, oversized pea coat and gym shorts.

“Shock,” I responded. I had to explain my answer — shock is a state of mind, so therefore, it’s a state that ends in ‘K.’ I’m really good at Scattergories.

The excited TV host, who was accompanied by a silent woman who I assumed was his producer, took a second to understand what I was saying. He didn’t like my answer.

Then, he asked me what city I was in. I responded, “New York.”

Ah, yes. New York.

In the excitable conversation that followed (from his part, not mine), I learned that I was not on a game show, and he was not a TV host. He was just way too happy for being on a New York City subway talking to strangers. Although, I should come to expect no less.

He then started talking my ear off about his charity, which I will not name. It is a popular international charity, and one worthy of attention (but best not to be associated with my sarcastic tone). He eventually introduced the woman next to him as his colleague, and it was her first day on the job. I understood why she was silent next to this overwhelming personality.

He told me he himself donates 75 cents a day to his own charity. “You can afford that, right?”

“Uhh… some days.” I was trying to calculate the quick math in my head, but I quickly realized I didn’t care to figure it out. For the record, should his statement be true, he donates $273.75 to his charity annually (and $274.50 in 2016).

My excitement and enthusiasm were waning, but for some reason, I continued to withstand the barrage of his words.

He showed me his charity ID card (apparently, they exist). He told me that it is illegal for charities to accept cash on the street (which I did not know and have not verified — the Salvation Army comes to mind). But it said so on his ID card. (“Make sure it says this on the ID of anyone associated with a charity you see on the street,” he warned.)

Before I had a chance to breathe, he opened his iPad, went to some fancy website and started inputting my information. By this point, thankfully, I had only given my name.

“I’m not in a position to give anything right now,” I admitted. “But I’ll take some information.”

“We don’t hand out paper,” he said, explaining it gets tossed in the trash. “It actually costs the charity much more money.”

So after five minutes of a one-sided chat, I thanked him, said I wasn’t interested today and that I would consider his charity in the future. Whether he believed it or not, that’s the truth.

I tend to avoid charity spokespeople when I see them on the street. I fall into the admittedly misguided city mentality that I need to get where I’m going as fast as I can with no interruptions. But I had no chance to avoid this man. Even though I missed the train and had to wait seven minutes for the next, I was happy to have had the encounter. It felt better than simply brushing someone off without giving them a chance to speak.

Don’t let me fool you. I’d often rather be sleeping in my bed. But maybe they’ll catch me on a good day.

So I leave you with a question of my own.

What’s the only state to begin with the letter ‘P’?

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