Verklempt

Lately I’ve been as verklempt as this Bergdorf mannequin; minus the glamour. Enervated at work, fed up, really (if you happen to work in an office populated by gossips and hypochondriacal, litigious malingerers, a workplace operating on anarchy, then, well, you know what it’s like).

And so it goes. Most days, you put up with it. Some days, it’s just too much. It could always be worse, however.

Outside the office has its own issues, for instance. Look at this poor horse. The other day, near Central Park, one of his comrades keeled over and dropped dead in the street while pulling a hansom cab. A newscaster on CBS reported that the horse had begun its second career (i.e., hauling tourists in the park) at the ripe old age of 15. How old is that in people years?

The bad economy has trickled down into the four-legged world. Options are severely limited for everyone (except for a select 10% or so — mayor Mike Bloomberg, being one, who stays awake nights, I’d wager, pacing, trying to concoct a plan to drive out the “Occupy Wall Street” protestors from the city — it’s bad for business– Hello…take a look at the big picture. Unemployment, bank fraud, insider trading, hedge fund greed mongers — are bad for business.)

The question is: When we will be allowed to dream again without being dismissed as blithering idiots?

Not a lot of light at the end of this tunnel. Ask all the homeless people who live in it. Or those who spend the night in the 57 St./6th Ave. station. In the morning, when I climb up the stairs from the F-train subway platform to the station, seeing all these people lying on the concrete floor, with sleeping bags or bed rolls or less than that, human beings — I’m ashamed. Ashamed for the city, ashamed that I have unwittingly intruded upon the pseudo-privacy of these people, ashamed of a world imploding due to greed, that our country allows this to happen.

If I take the E train instead and get off at 53rd St. and 5th Ave., on any given morning I will see a terribly unfortunate, homeless man — in rags, shoeless, his swollen feet swathed in filthy bandages, a confused sad man, obviously mentally ill, sprawled on the same bench, gazing into space in kind of stupor, mumbling jibberish.

Yesterday, I thought, maybe I could buy him coffee.  There’s a Dunkin’ Donuts on the second level of the station. But I chickened out. I was afraid he might be uncontrollably insane or that I might scare him and he would lash out at me. It’s not exactly an unfounded fear.

But, this morning, I saw him and he was on the bench eating soup from a cardboard container. Someone was looking out for him. Again, I felt ashamed that I had chickened out the day before, but glad for him.

I left the station and walked down 5th Ave. and saw the skinny elderly woman I see almost every morning sitting in her usual spot, near Gucci, on the cold pavement with a piece of cardboard separating her from the concrete. She wears a hoodie and sits cross-legged. Avoiding eye-contact, she gazes at the sidewalk through her oversized glasses, her stringy gray hair loosely pulled back in a pony tail. A paper cup ready for coins is next to her feet. Usually, I drop something into it.

Every time I see her, I can’t help thinking, how did this happen to her? I think of my own mother. It breaks my heart.

The usual coffee truck with the Jersey guy proprietor doling out buttered rolls for a dollar was on the corner of 56th St. So I bought her a regular coffee. She  took it from me and placed the cup on the sidewalk next to her. I wondered if she would have preferred a dollar bill. Sadness is all around us. It’s easy to find. Lately, it takes some effort to locate the good stuff.

Heading toward my office, I crossed over 57th St. I happened to look down. This is what I saw.

 A heart carved into the sidewalk, shadowed by the Trump Tower.

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