Friday, November 14, 2008

The Spare Change Guy

He's an ugly guy with an ugly face. We don't follow him everywhere he goes but we suspect he brings up the rear in the human race. Despite that, he is a man and he seems to be an honorable one, even if he is often misunderstood.

No one goes to college to be a panhandler. It's not a profession any parent is proud their offspring chooses to pursue. Some people, by design and destiny, have no choice but to live off the indulgence of others. If you are in downtown Boston, you'll pass plenty of people shaking a styrofoam cup with a rattle of coins in its bottom. The Spare Change Guy isn't one of them. He keeps his earnings in his pocket and asks outright for a handout.

He has a voice that can scratch concrete. He travels Boston Common or the Public Garden or Park Street Station scrounging for a little pocket money. His voice is both whining and grating when he calls out to all who can hear, "Can anybody spare some change?" He isn't clean and he doesn't look like a worthwhile cause. He's no matinee idol with a smooth pitch. He doesn't look like a good investment. He is often openly mocked and taunted but that doesn't stop him. With a voice that makes babies cry, he belts out, "Can anybody spare some change?" to whatever crowd he happens on.

Tough work if you can get it. Even tougher if you can be successful. The Spare Change Guy gets by, whatever that means. He is downtown haunting public places and T stations every day, surviving on whatever handouts he collects. They say the meek will inherit the Earth. I shudder to think of the Spare Change Guy replacing Mayor Mennino but there is a place for him in my city. Most of Boston's streets are pretty but all of them can be pretty mean.

I wasn't born as ugly as some people, nor as disadvantaged. I do what I can to be comfortable, relying on the gifts God gave me to maximize returns. Doesn't everyone? Am I any better than this man? In the end, we are both part of this moment in Boston. In the end we will both be food for the worms and fodder for Heaven.


Anonymous said...

The point is? Boring as usual.

Anonymous said...

his name is john bubier. he loves kc & the sunshine band.

'Whalehead' King said...

Life isn't always exciting but it is good nonetheless. Thank you both for reading and thanks for the biographical tidbit. I'm not a big fan of KC or his band, but to each his own.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure this will sound bad, but here goes. He often obstructs traffic, he waves his arm in the path of pedestrians, I think he was jailed for assault within the past few years, and he generally makes anyplace he's standing a worse place to be.

I see no reason to give him a break and every reason to stick him in an institution of some kind; maybe he can be fixed.

-carpundit (

'Whalehead' King said...

"Bad" is a matter of opinion though I agree he does tend to make places uncomfortable. Whether they are "worse" or not depends on who is doing the describing. I rarely enjoy a crowded T platform no matter what the social makeup of the company.

If every eccentric is going to be institutionalized, John Bubier and I may be cell mates. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Please remember, when discussing fixing we are talking about reprogramming an unappealing man, not sterilizing a dog.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the poor word choice. I meant "repaired," not "sterilized."



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