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A commuter swipes a metrocard through a turnstile as the MTA's doomsday budget plan - to plug a $1.2 billion deficit - is set for a vote at tomorrow's board meeting. The budget includes fare increases and service cut backs as state lawmakers stall on a bailout plan.   Original Filename: DSC_9843.JPG
You a cool ass dude, O.G.

So said the young man to me as I handed him a new metrocard.

As I was exiting the subway today, there were two young men standing at the turnstile. If you've ever been in New York, you might see folks standing at the subway gate with a very earnest, desiring look in their eyes. As people are exiting from the most recently departed train, the people standing outside the entrance are looking to make contact with someone.

"Swipe?" they ask.

Their hope is that you have some extra fare on your metrocard, and since you are exiting the station you may not need it as much as they do. Or perhaps you have an "unlimited" metrocard, as I do, in which case swiping your metrocard through the gate costs you nothing. It is absolutely legal to do this. I am in the habit of always swiping whomever asks for it. But you only get one chance to swipe a person. The system only allows one unlimited swipe every 20 minutes or so. As charitable as I try to be, there's no way I'm going to wait around at a subway gate for 20 minutes to perform an act of altruism. I'm not that nice a guy.

But how do I choose between the young men to decide who gets the swipe?

I'm sure, like most folks who do this, either of them would be grateful. One has to get where one must go, indeed. Isn't it better to see them doing this, asking politely for help, rather than breaking the law? Fare beating risks fines and/or arrest, which won't get one where one must go.

I conclude quickly that I must decide whose trip is the most important of the two, give quick consideration of the information before me, make a rapid first impression judgment call, and then swipe the winning boy.

"Where you niggaz going?" I ask.

"I'm going home, O.G." says one young man, the dark complexioned one.

"Work," says the laconic one with pants sagging.

At this point the one going home shoots the other one a startled look, as if he's been given a moral choice and leaped at the opportunity to do the right thing. As if he sensed there was someone watching, and he wanted that person's approval. Much like puppies behave when they know their masters approve.

"Oh go ahead and swipe him then. Work is important."

"Where you work?" I say to stone-face saggy pants.

"In the stock room at Brooklyn Industries." (B.I. is a hipster retailer. I wear their sweatshirts.)

So, here I have two young men. One going to earn his living in the world the best way a young man can these days, in retail. The other doing the thing most basic, going home, which I myself happened to be doing. I have one swipe and two deserving candidates.

To make a long story short, I made sure both of them got where they wanted to go. But while I was getting the young man on his way home a new metrocard, we talked a lil bit about girls. I gave him a bit of advice on the fairer sex which he apparently found valuable, or at least entertaining, by the smile on his face. Then I got the "cool dude" compliment. This young man knows how to please people. He's going to go far.

Getting old is a blessing. So is the wisdom that hopefully comes with it. Whenever you have the opportunity, be brief and funny with the advice to young people. Remember, brief and funny. Mix in a bit of generosity. That young person will be grateful, and you'll have a spring in your step and smile on your face. And that, folks, is one thing to do to if you want to grow old with style. Brief, funny, and generous with young people.

Originally posted to Triple-B in the Building on Fri Sep 13, 2013 at 10:10 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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