“I Can’t Actually Kill Him.”

I see some very strange things while working in the city. Most of them are just downright weird (like the lady who was smoking under her table at work the other week and then ate food off of other people’s plates- at other tables-  when they got up to dance) but sometimes they’re funny. Today contained one of the latter.

When I wait for my tour patrons, I stand on the corner by Reading Terminal Market. The four corners there are home to buskers, protesters, and, at this time of year, the Salvation Army collectors, bell-ringing and all. The guy who works the same corner where I stand and I see each other fairly often; sometimes I give him chocolate. He’s a very friendly guy who never seems put out when people ignore him or don’t put money in the collection bucket.

Today, he was ringing his bell as cheerfully as ever, wishing people a merry Christmas as they walked by, and this old lady with one of those rolling shopping carts stopped in front of him. She was probably about a foot and a half shorter than him and she said, with a Russian accent, “If I give you this [money], you put it in here.” She indicated his red apron, then pointed to the collection bucket. “Not here.” The man nodded. “No. You don’t put it in the bucket when I walk away. You keep it. You put it in the bucket, I kill you.” The bell-ringing man started laughing and saying, “Okay, okay.” “You keep it!” the old lady kept repeating. “Or I kill you. You hear me? I kill you.”

This was like a reverse mugging; she seemed super serious about him not putting the amount into the collection bucket. A man who was on the other side of me, smoking, said to me, “Gotta love this, right?” Finally, the bell-ringing man convinced the old lady that he was not going to put the money in the bucket, and she started to walk away. But when she saw me laughing into my book, she stopped.

“I gave him fifty cents,” she informed me. “But I want him to keep it. I’m Jewish, so I can’t actually kill him, you know. I just don’t want to give money to that place.” I nodded and smiled and said something like, “Makes sense, I guess.” She squinted up at me. “Are you Catholic?” “No,” I told her. “I’m Protestant.” That was when she dropped her gaze and walked away from me without another word. I guess she didn’t approve of my Protestant-ness. Maybe I should have just told her I was Catholic…


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Chloe
    Dec 18, 2012 @ 16:10:22

    haha that was great. Oh, people and their crazy ways…


  2. MOM
    Dec 18, 2012 @ 16:50:25

    NOO–that response may have saved you from a rant. OR maybe she would have given you money to put into your pocket instead of the basket passed around at church. LOL


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