On Saturday evening, NYC time, after we fundraised, I was going out to meet a friend, and my trip took me through Union Square. On a whim, I thought I should stop by the Barnes and Noble there, just in case I might run into the man in the photo. I just had an inkling. Sure enough, there was the stand! I pulled up the HONY photo, and compared the books, and there was no mistaking it – same books in the same order; it was definitely the same stand. However, the man at the stand was not the same man. I introduced myself, he told me his name is Michael, and I asked him if he knew the man in the picture.
“Sure,” he said. “His name is Malcolm. I’m his partner, we run the stand together.”
We continued on chatting. Michael is in his forties or early-fifties, a cleanly-shaved man with kind eyes and a warm smile. I found out that both Michael and Malcolm are homeless, and live off the stand, which received donations of books. Michael knew about the HONY story – he stepped away to get coffee when Brandon Stanton, the HONY photographer came by. A few seconds difference, and he would have been in the picture. I gave him my card, he assured me that Malcolm comes by often, and promised to pass my number on. At the end, I offered him a little money for his time, but he refused to take it. So, I bought a book, for which he wouldn’t take more than its price – $2. Then we took a picture to show you guys! If you hadn’t seen it on the page already, it’s attached.
If you’re in NYC and want to help – right now! – go down to the Union Square Barnes and Noble, find the bookstand, and donate or buy a book! They’re dirt cheap.
Sure enough, yesterday afternoon, I got a call from Malcolm himself! We talked about how he has played for 40 years, and how he’s excited to get back into it. I shared the good news, and told him about your generosity. As I mentioned earlier, I have been a violist/composer for 15 years, and it was clear that I was speaking to a professional musician. Malcolm told me about a specific shop in Scotland, run by the famed Doug MacPherson, which makes the finest bagpipes. I did some research, and Doug MacPherson is indeed very well renowned. I’m going to give him a call today to find out what we can do with our funds. It turns out that GoFundMe, and their processing partner, WePay, takes quite a fee for their services. I’m going to withdraw the money tonight or tomorrow morning, and it takes 2-5 days to transfer the funds. At that point, I’ll run the final plans by you, and hopefully we can purchase the bagpipes by next weekend! I’m so excited to potentially get them from Scotland!