Postcards from the East: "Give Me Your Money" and More Demands from New York City

Byline: by Shin Young Lee

Posted: October 26, 2011

During fall recess, I went to New York City (NYC) with some friends. We tried to save money so we took the Megabus which is very cheap, but took a long time compared to an airplane.

Even though it took a long time, I was dreaming of going to NYC. Do you know the drama, Sex and the City? In this drama, four main characters lived in NYC and enjoyed their single life. I know dramas are an exaggeration and sometimes distort reality. However, most Korean girls (of course including me!) love Sex and the City and admire NYC. With this admiration, I eagerly arrived in NYC at 1:00am.

After I stepped off the bus, I realized Broadway smelled terrible. Huge electronic displays and scoreboards sparkled in the night, but the streets looked dreary. The only people who welcomed me were homeless. I wanted to go my hotel, but I wanted to save money. I decided to take the bus again. The problem is there are a lot of buses and the information box already closed. There also weren’t many passengers on the buses to help. 

At this moment, a kind looking man came up to me. He explained the directions. I said "thank you so much" and I turned my face. Then he gently smiled and opened his mouth again. "I’m homeless. Give me some money."

He was asking me for "fare" money. I was so surprised. In Korea, there are many homeless people like in NYC, but they never talk to passengers. They do not ask for money but wait for passengers to donate money. I was trying to avoid the homeless man. Then, he followed me! He asked for money over and over again. I finally gave him some coins without counting them. At last he said "Oh, it’s not enough. You should give me more money." I ran away from him.

I used to imagine "luxurious" aspects of NYC, but I was shocked that it was not what I thought. Still I do not know what the real face of NYC and the U.S. From this experience, I realized other faces of the city that I did not expect. I am not sure how to explain these faces, but now I can confront them.

Last Updated: January 16, 2012

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