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No Dollar Days in Brooklyn

No Dollar Days in BrooklynI have not spent a dollar in nearly four days. I do not even have a dollar in my wallet. I really love these no dollar days. In fact, when I go to bed at night after a day of not spending ANY money I feel absolutely victorious, I feel like [...]

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No Dollar Days in Brooklyn

I have not spent a dollar in nearly four days. I do not even have a dollar in my wallet. I really love these no dollar days. In fact, when I go to bed at night after a day of not spending ANY money I feel absolutely victorious, I feel like I won. I have found that I remember these no dollar days for much longer than I probably should, but they are little victories for me, they mean that I am living cheap and I’m not suckered into the the temptation of spending money for the simple enjoyment of doing so.

The more no dollar days I have, the longer I can travel and experience more of the world.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Brooklyn, New York City- November 21, 2008
Travelogue Travel Photos

I found a good graff here in Brooklyn: university scholarships and financial aid has just about covered my costs of living. I have a room without knowing who paid for it and I eat food without knowing whose bill it is going on. I find this all rather mysterious, though I am not complaining.

When I spend money here in New York City it is usually because I want to. Sometimes I like spending $5 to go to a Bollywood movie at the Indian theater and sometimes I enjoy drinking a $1 cup of coffee in a cafe. But I usually do not want to spend money more than I want to have a no dollar day. This is a game to me.

Another benefit of carrying no money is that I become absolutely impervious to beggars, grafters, and hustlers. Relatively speaking, there are very few beggars in New York City for a place of its size and population density. I looked into the homeless resources that the city has to offer when I first moved here, as I was unsure if I would have a place to live, and I have the impression that the dire poor are more or less provided for. Evidence for this impression is that many of the people begging seem to be in working condition: they have all their limbs, their bodies seem to work properly, and most even appear to be mentally “there.” It is my impression that the beggars here are not spare changing out of need, but out of want. For there are things which the city does not provide for its needy.

Therefore, there are far more grafters and hustlers in New York City than beggars. Wit, guilt provoking maneuvers, humor, and long tales of woe are used to suck out a dollar or two out of a John who otherwise just wants to get away. Once you are caught in a grafter’s net it is far easier to pay a dollar to escape rather than feel rude by abruptly walking away from someone who is talking your ear off.

I am a friendly fellow, if someone seems to be asking me directions in the street, I stop to listen. 95% of the times I know that I am going to be suckered, for the simple direction asking routine is a great lock-in prop. Once you stop to answer a question, you feel stuck to listen to whatever else someone has to say.

It is usually some long tale to get money.

I never give money (well, except for the joke man who got a dollar out of me . . .but he deserved it). I usually interrupt the monologue with a blunt question – “Do you want money?” – and then walk away. I found that asking a question shifts the conversational paradigm and thus frees me from the lock-in prop.

But carrying no money myself, I have actually began listening to the stories that I am told all the way through, for some of them are incredible.

Today I was told a tale about how a guy’s mother just had a stoke while driving and ran over three kids a block away and how Officer Pelligrino called him a nigger. He needed $7 to get his car towed or something like that.

“You are not going to believe this,” he said before launching into his tale.

He was right.

“Sorry, man, but I honestly don’t have a dollar.”

No dollar days in Brooklyn.

“This is what travel writers do: reach conclusions on the basis of slender evidence.”
-Paul Theroux

Related Pages:
Begging for a Laugh in New York City
Vagabond Finds Home in Brooklyn
Couchsurfing in New York City
Living in Brooklyn
No Accommodation in Brooklyn

Links to previous travelogue entries:

  • How to Publish a Magazine
  • How Not to Monetize Blog
  • Obama Hope or Delusion

No Dollar Days in Brooklyn
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Filed under: New York City, USA

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3705 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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