Riding the 2 train through Harlem today, a young chubby kid–probably around 12–boarded sporting a NY baseball cap, a clean tee and a harmonica around his neck. He was rolling a small cart with 2 buckets filled with drumsticks; some broken, all used.
He took the buckets off the cart, turned them upside down, sat on one and cradled the other between his short legs. He looked up and caught the curious gaze of an elderly woman and smiled a huge cocky grin.
“Excuse me ladies and gentlemen!” he belted with confidence far beyond his years, “please excuse the interruption. My name is Joshua the Music Maker. When you hear something you like, you clap. When you hear something you don’t, you still clap.”
He went on to drop an early Public Enemy-esque beat using his sticks, the bucket and one of the hand-poles. Then he kicked in with the mouth-harp, laying a nice tune on top.
After playing for a minute or two, he stopped, stood and called back to the audience:
“Thank you ladies and gentlemen. Applause is kindly welcomed” and waited for our applause. We clapped like trained monkeys to our 12 year old master.
“Any donation is welcomed. I’ll take a penny, I’ll take a dollar.”
He pulled one ratty dollar bill out of his pocket, and straightened it in his hand. I thought to myself: “Damn, that kid is impressive, he deserves a dollar” and I handed it over. He was so sure of his ability to make donations he didn’t even look at me when he took it. He continued around the train-car accepting dollar-bills until he came back to his kit. I saw him count the ratty dollars out in his hand: $10 dollars! The train stopped at 135th and he exited, hustling his way towards the next car.
If he can make $10 in 5 minutes in one car, that’s roughly $120 dollars an hour if he can keep that up! Suddenly I want to take back my $1. I think I might need it more than he will.