Willie starts working the 2 train as soon as he gets on at Gun Hill Road.
“Some guys sit around and wait for customers,” he says. “If you’re gonna make it in this racket you gotta hustle all the time. And it’s important to know the audience and always give ‘em what they want.”
Willie is selling M&M’s and Hershey’s bars this morning.
“They’re good for breakfast,” he announces. “Nothing goes better with coffee.”
“I’m drinking tea,” a woman says.
“They’re absolutely perfect with tea,” Willie counters.
She buys M&M’s.
Willie tries to satisfy everyone so he also offers batteries and decks of cards and little flashlights and naked-lady cigar lighters and gloves and thick wool socks. Earphones and videos and watches are available, too.
He switches to the 1 train at Chambers Street and changes the pitch.
“It’s all about the tourists down here,” Willie explains.
He has Statue of Liberty pens and stickers and postcards and snow globes and yo-yos that flash red, white and blue.
“They’re all big sellers,” Willie says.
But his biggest days come on the 4 train.
“I cleanup when the Yankees are in town,” he explains. “People just can’t get enough of anything with pinstripes.”
And Willie always gives ‘em what they want.