So I was standing on the subway this morning minding my own business when this homeless guy starts walking through the car singing Christmas carols and begging for change. And of course I didn’t give him any because what the fuck, man, at least come up with some original material. But soon after the man passes me the woman sitting in the seat I’m standing in front of digs a dollar out of her pocket and yells, “Sir! Sir!” I look at her out of the corner of my eye. You’re not from around here, are you? The guy comes back and gets his dollar, says thank you, and she says to him, “But it’s not too late for you. You can get a job.” Now I look at her full on and start almost imperctibly shaking my head in a panic. DO NOT ENGAGE. The hobo mumbles something about not being able to find a job and just needing a little help as he walks back behind me and then the woman says again, louder this time, “You can turn your life around!” I start to back away slowly but it’s too late. I’m caught in between them and now the hobo yells “GENERAL PATTON TOOK MY FAMILY.” I shoot the woman a look, like, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?, but she’s too busy crying out “WITH JESUS ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!” No, clearly the problem is that she is as crazy as he is. At this point I merely stand there, staring out the window. This goes on for awhile. Eventually the hobo leaves.
So then she turns to me. “That was kind of crazy, hunh?” I smile at her. I was not annoyed. In fact, I was highly entertained. But while I often like to chat with strangers, today I did not feel inclined. I had just bought a new book about rat habitats and habits in New York, and I wanted to read it. But she just kept talking. She told me about her daughter, she asked me questions about myself. I answered politely but half-heartedly, my mind on my book. At one point, when I said that I was on my way to work, she said, “You ride the subway every day?”
“Do you like it?”
“Yes, I like it.”
“I don’t like it. I’m afraid to ride the subway.”
Oh. Oh well that explained some things.
“I’m afraid something bad will happen, like terrorism.” Her voice was much quieter now.
I could understand how the New York subway could be scary, even without the terrorism. So I tucked my book into my bag and asked her questions about her daughter. She told me about how she wanted to take her daughter to Atlantic City but she wasn’t sure if everything was okay after Sandy. I said I wasn’t sure but she could probably check on the Internet. She said she wasn’t very good with that, that she would let her daughter do it. “She’s the expert,” she said. “She’s so smart, I tell her I want her to be a doctor or a lawyer or a scientist.” Her face was really animated, and I smiled at her again. Soon we reached the woman’s stop. She wished me a blessed day, then made her way out of the car, awkwardly bumping into people and offering up a “Oh, no, please, after you!” No, clearly she didn’t ride the subway very often. I hope she made it back home okay.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
“The evidence is overwhelming. Year after year, actively managed mutual funds fail to beat index funds. Studies have born this out repeatedly over various time periods in bull and bear markets.”
John C. Bogle, founder of Vanguard, takes you through an extraordinary example of how an extra 2% fee on your fund can rob you of 2/3 (That’s TWO-THIRDS) of your potential earnings over time because of how compound interest works.
Actively managed funds have higher fees than the index funds they fail to outperform, fees that also reduce your compounded earnings. In other words, you’re being robbed twice.
So I think I figured out one reason why there seems to be a higher percentage of well-put together people here. It’s not just vanity – well, maybe it’s vanity – but it’s also really cheap to look good here. Any kind of beauty service is about half of what you would pay in Pittsburgh for comparable quality, and you can go even lower if you’re willing to go to a hole in the wall. (And Lifebooker is your friend.)
I got a manicure for the first time in my entire life last week (and have maintained a feeling of elegance at all times since, including when buying toilet paper at a scrungy bodega), I’m making some headway on that eyebrows-are-two-different-sizes thing, and I can’t remember the last time I had this little body hair.
Thanks to you, forces of supply and demand, I am looking fiiiiiiine.