At Witt's End

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“Hollering” Harry and the Saint Patrick’s Day Beggar

“I’m telling you the digital world is changing things and it ain’t for the better,” said my good friend and fellow journalist “Hollering” Harry.
We were sitting at a bar after a long day of grinding out stories and were talking about the state of the world.
“What do you mean, Harry? Look how social networking (through the computer) has made for peaceful demonstrations and change throughout the Arab world.”
“Maybe so, but they haven’t all been peaceful,” replied Harry.
“True, but I for one really enjoy Facebook. Why, it’s reconnected me with high school and college buddies I’ve long forgotten.”
“You can keep your Facebook,” said Harry. “But to me, this whole information superhighway is speeding out of hand.”
“How so?”
“Like on the subway. The other day I was riding the F train and this beggar comes in the car. The poor fellow was dressed in green rags, walked with a limp like the mummy and smelled as if he hadn’t seen soap and water in weeks.”
“Okay. So we’ve all seen beggars on the subway. What are you getting at?”
“This beggar started dragging himself up and down this subway car spinning his tale of woe for all to hear. How he is Irish from Galloway Bay, but never knew his parents and had lost his dog – the only friend he had in this world – in a fire.”
I took a gulp of my beer.
“You are coming to a point?”
“Then this beggar actually gets down on his knees in the middle of the car with such wailing and crying as you never heard. I swear, it was gut-wrenching. ‘Ladies and gentleman,’ he says through his tears. ‘Pah-leeze! Have a heart. I’ll take anything. A nickel, a quarter, a dollar.’”
Harry stopped his story, drank down his whiskey and motioned the barkeep for another.
“So go on,” I said.
“But the subway car was full of heartless people and nobody was biting on his story. But it being the week of Saint Patrick’s Day and all, I was touched. So I pull a five from my pocket and put it in the beggar’s soiled and filthy hands.”
“That was very kind of you, Harry.”
“Yeah, right. No sooner then I hand the guy my hard-earned dough and he bounces up like a spring chicken and says to the other straphangers, ‘Now look at that kindness ladies and gentleman. Think about the five-dollar bill this man so generously gave me to me in my time of woe. And if you get home and still feel it in your heart to help a poor fellow human being you can do so by logging onto www.beggerontheftrain.com. I take Paypal and have a very secure Web site to take credit card information. You can also follow me on Twitter or go to my Facebook fan page.”
“Sounds like you’re feeding me a little Saint Patrick’s Day blarney,” I said.
“Hollering’ Harry lifted an eyebrow and winked at me mischievously.
“Maybe so,” he said. “But I’m telling you the digital world is changing things and it ain’t for the better.”