A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer.

By Nina Pajak

So, perhaps it’s the hormones surging through my body thanks to my current condition, but I’ve been feeling downright…cheerful.

Oh, sure, the tourists drive me to distraction, and I’ve thrown my fair share of elbows. But it’s just in the name of self-preservation. And once I’ve made it through the unwieldy throngs, I do not retain my rage and frustration and let it boil over and ruin the next several hours, as I’ve done in previous years. Rather, I find it dissipates along with the crowd. Weird, huh?

So it was yesterday morning that I was exiting the subway, imbued with my new-found implacable holiday spirit, when I came across a scene that just made it all come crashing down. It was in the vestibule by one of the staircases. A cop was standing over a homeless man, who was slowly rising from his cardboard sheet and collecting his things. Here’s how the conversation went:

Homeless guy: Okay, I’m leaving.

Cop: Get out of here!

Homeless guy (calmly): Why did you kick me, though?

Cop: You’re in the way! Nobody wants to walk past you here.

Homeless guy (calmly): I’m leaving, I always leave when you tell me to. But that was just unnecessary.

Cop: Come on, get out of here, let’s go. How do you want to do this?
Homeless guy: I always leave when you tell me to, I’m just saying, man to man, that kicking me wasn’t necessary.
Cop (increasingly aggressive): How do you want to do this? How do you want to do this? Is that how you want to do this?
It was sickening. When I got above ground, I sort of hated myself for not getting involved. But then, what chance do I stand against a bully cop who is clearly in no kind of holiday mood? And what could I really have done? Something, maybe. Or not. In the end, the guy had to move and the cop had the right to make him. I doubt my interjecting would have suddenly turned this into some revelatory scene where Scrooge McCop is visited by a ghostly vision of his future and mends the error of his nasty ways, then helps the homeless man out of the subway steps and buys him a hot cup of coffee. This is the world, I suppose. 
We need him.

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