People on the way to work don’t stop to watch street performers

The Washington Post decided to get a famous violin player to play during morning rush hour in the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station, and they found that not very many people stopped to listen or give him money. I don’t find this surprising at all — people do have jobs, you know. Wondered the article, which was the Sunday magazine cover story:

Each passerby had a quick choice to make, one familiar to commuters in any urban area where the occasional street performer is part of the cityscape: Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation, aware of your cupidity but annoyed by the unbidden demand on your time and your wallet? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite? Does your decision change if he’s really bad? What if he’s really good? Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn’t you? What’s the moral mathematics of the moment?

Sorry, but this isn’t hard. You ignore whatever is going on in the station and you go to your job. People who are walking through L’Enfant at 8am on a weekday morning aren’t typically ambling about aimlessly. They have places to go, and this doesn’t make them uncultured swine either, Washington Post magazine, though thanks for implying that.


One Response to People on the way to work don’t stop to watch street performers

  1. Gary says:

    There is a great response to the Joshua Bell article by a NYC subway musician in her blog:
    She interprets the situation differently from the Washington Post reporters… I thought you might find it interesting.

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