“My name is Sonny Payne”

Every afternoon, on the F train, somewhere between York St. and Bergen:

“Pardon me, my name is Sonny Payne. I’m homeless and I’m hungry. If you don’t have it, I understand, ’cause I don’t have it. But if can you spare some change, a sandwich, a piece of fruit, I’d appreciate it.”

Every afternoon, Sonny Payne steps onto the F train at York St. and makes his way slowly along the train, switching cars at each stop. Sonny, an elderly black man with a white grizzled beard, shuffles through the car, back bent, an F-train stocking cap on his head, carrying a black plastic bag. Today, he carried a box of store-brand corn flakes.

I see this man at least three days a week. I’ve never seen him on the F in Manhattan; he only appears at York St. or at stops further along the Brooklyn segment of the F.

I’ve never given him money.

[Edited 5/21/04 to correct the spelling of his name and the beginning of his speech.]