It was close to 1 a.m. when I left the wedding on Saturday night, and since I was still wide awake and had all of my senses, I decided I’d save the money I had set aside for cab fare and walked to the subway, which was two blocks from the venue. I’d normally feel self-conscious about wearing a tuxedo on the subway because strangers can’t help but stare, but it was late and I found a seat in the back of the car.
When I got to my stop and walked out of the subway and in the direction of my apartment, a man wearing a college sweatshirt who looked to be in his late thirties approached me and tapped me on the shoulder while I waited at a crosswalk.
“Excuse me—I need some help and you look like someone who can help me.”
“Okay…” I said. I was highly aware that it was late, there were very few people around, and that I was wearing a tuxedo.
“Are you familiar with the neighborhood?”
“I was just at a bar two blocks from here, and I had a Tumi backpack with my wallet and everything else in it, and someone took it.”
“I see. And how can I help?”
“I’m trying to get home to Jersey and don’t have any means to get there.”
“I know, but listen, I’m an investment banker. I work at Morgan Stanley … if that counts for anything.”
I was taken aback and also kind of annoyed—not because an investment banker was asking me for money (which is its own irony for multiple reasons), but because what he seemed to be saying was that he was from the upper class, and not a homeless person who was panhandling, and that, somehow, that was suppose to count for something.
“I need to get on the subway,” he said.
I pulled out a $10 bill from my wallet.
“Actually, can you give me a $20? It’ll get me to Jersey.”
Taken aback again, and even more annoyed, I was tempted to say no, forget it, just because I’m wearing a tuxedo doesn’t mean I’ve got pockets full dollars I won’t miss, but instead, I found myself handing him a $20 bill—the money that I didn’t use on cab fare to get myself home.
“Good luck,” I said.
“I really, really appreciate this,” he said. “And by the way, you look fantastic.” And then, perhaps signaling class again, he said, “I have one just like it.”
“Goodbye and goodnight,” I said, and crossed the street, making my way home.
Photo: Jason Howie