Good Narrative Principles



IMG_1436M had his system down to a fine science. He’d step onto a train car. Hold a clenched fist close to his mouth to lend his performance the air of singing into a microphone, and then pacing up and down, he’d belt out a classic. On express trains he generally had time for two songs — a doo-wop number like “In the Still of the Night” and an exit song. Something about “Down by the Riverside” always suggested to M an image of shuffling through life with a jaunty attitude. He tried mixing things up, not favoring one train line over another. On the Lexington Avenue line he always treated himself to a deep dive near the Metrocard reader, where, to his great delight, a handsome stack of discards lay ripe for the plucking. Without breaking a sweat, he’d find five to twenty five cents worth of change remaining on most cards. Whereas no one in their right mind would flip a quarter into the garbage, here people can’t be bothered. A few minutes of stooping down to collect fistfuls of abandoned cards generally earned M an easy three to four bucks, all without stressing out his fraying vocal chords. However, with the change in policy, the dollar surcharge with each new Metrocard, M knew that the days of scooping up this easy bonanza were over. A bit like a bakery withholding their tasty crumbs of cookies and cakes out of sheer orneriness.

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