The Candy Man Can

I’ve seen this on the streets of Manhattan, and on the subways time and again. But never before on Metro-North, until yesterday.

A man–black, faint facial hair, 30, wearing giant gray t-shirt over giant gray long-sleeve t-shirt, baggy jeans and New Balance hiking boots, wobbles through the aisles of the 5:46 out of Grand Central. He holds a tattered box of double-sized Mr. Goodbars in the crook of his arm, and a laminated sheet with the name of his organization in his other hand.

He is, as anyone who’s ever been in New York City for more than eight minutes knows, selling candy to raise funds for an organization–a youth basketball team, a scouts organization, a class trip to Albany to witness the senatorial surreality firsthand.

All that is different from the typical scenario is the man’s age, and the fact that he’s hawking on Metro-North.

I’m standing in the vestible, which I’ve noticed I’ve been doing a lot of the last few weeks (decreased ridership, my ass). He has a buyer in a seat near the vestibule, a pretty black woman of about 30. No one else bites, so to speak.

Mr. Goodbar makes his way to me.

“Help us out, sir,” he says, limply holding the laminated sheet up to clarify who, exactly, “us” is. Alas, he takes it away before I can read it.

I decline a giant candy bar, and Mr. Goodbar is on his way.

By the way, the fare hikes went into effect today. You won’t feel it if you have a June monthly, of course, but everyone else will.

Suddenly hawking candy bars for a few bucks on Metro-North doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

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