I estimate that I've been walking the streets (not in the euphemistic sense) of New York City and the surrounding areas by myself for a little over 15 years (not consecutively). In that time, I have had numerous strangers attempt to hand me a piece of paper I don't need. Sometimes that piece of paper touts a sale on suits, sometimes it points me to a nearby strip club, and sometimes it's offering me a free first month at a gym. The common denominator is that every single piece of paper that has looked to make its way into my hands on the city sidewalks has been one I don't need. And so when I see someone attempting to thrust a piece of paper into my hand, I reflexively put my head down and say, "No, thanks."
But that all changed last week when I was walking on Broadway downtown and I heard a pitch as I flew past that contained the words "bowl free." I immediately turned my head and moved back to the sweet, sweet angel handing out coupons for a free hour of bowling at the generally irredeemable monstrosity that is now Leisure Time Bowl at the Port Authority. It used to be a cool bowling alley, but then it got a makeover and now has an in-house DJ, waitress service, and a rule that says you can't wear hats. But I will overlook these sins when you give me a coupon for a free hour.
So, for the first time ever, I was glad to receive a piece of paper from a stranger. So glad, in fact, that I made sure to go back the same way and get another coupon an hour later. And pick one up off the sidewalk. I drew the line at reaching into the nearby trash can that contained dozens of discarded hours of fun. But I thought about it. Hard.
They say that change is coming. Now I believe.