New York City straphangers may be accustomed to panhandlers on the subway -- and probably ignore most of them -- but one woman recently managed to get riders' attention when she begged for something unusual: a date.
Public school teacher and comedian Jana Schmieding told Cosmopolitan that she came up with the idea last year while working on a comedy sketch.
Then she and a friend decided to see what it would actually be like to panhandle for dates.
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In a video posted to YouTube last week, Schmieding hops on a few different subway lines and makes her announcement with the familiar opening lines: "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen."
But she continues, "I'm not homeless or out of work. I'm not asking for money tonight. I am on this train searching for the man of my dreams."
Riders perk up, appearing puzzled or amused.
"I am single, and unfortunately it's gotten to the point where I need to rely on the help of strangers," Schmieding says. "I am not asking for change today. In fact, if someone were to take me out, I'd prefer to split the bill."
The subway riders laugh and begin offering advice, sympathetic words of comfort and even a few business cards of friends and roommates (and in one case, a Twitter handle).
"I didn't meet anyone till I was 32," one woman says.
"You still have time," another offers.
"I'm getting divorced, you can have my husband," yet another deadpans.
Schmieding told Cosmopolitan that she was encouraged by the kindness of subway riders, normally so stoic and unmoved.
"Every single panhandle I took on had a group of people that would cheer and engage with me," she said.