Trial by Fire

Section 1

Imagine me in the late 70s

Dressed in a very stylish double-breasted, black and white herringbone suit and an Egyptian cotton shirt set off by a tie with an abstract flower on a black background. The look was meticulously put together, exuding sophistication and elegance.

Standing in front of Barneys, New York

Barneys, New York, the high fashion men’s store of the time, occupied an entire block between 16th and 17th St. on Seventh Avenue. The aura of luxury and exclusivity surrounded the establishment, making it a beacon for the elite and fashionable.

Conflicted Appearance

Despite looking the part, there was an underlying tension within me. A cold sweat broke out on my brow, and my stomach was tied in knots. The contrast between my outward appearance and internal turmoil was stark, creating an inner conflict that was palpable.

On Assignment

I stood there, not as a mere observer but on a specific mission. The purpose of my presence in front of Barneys was clear, although the anxiety and unease within me threatened to overshadow the task at hand. The assignment loomed before me, challenging me to step out of my comfort zone.

Fashionable man standing outside highend store in 70s

Section 2

Panhandling for 20s

My assigned task was to panhandle for twenties as patrons left the upscale store. Using lines like “I’m not looking for chump change. If you can shop here, you can afford to give me twenty,” I attempted to elicit a generous response from the exiting clientele.

Response Anticipation

The anticipation of reactions from the well-to-do customers was nerve-wracking. Imagining the various responses to my direct plea for twenty-dollar bills heightened my anxiety. The unpredictable nature of human behavior in such a scenario added to the challenge.

Fear of Rejection

Amidst the task of panhandling, my personal struggles came to the forefront. Being single at the time, I faced significant difficulties in approaching women due to a deep-rooted fear of rejection. This fear not only affected my interactions with potential romantic interests but also seeped into other aspects of my life, including this unusual assignment.

Inner Turmoil

The combination of soliciting money from affluent individuals while battling inner insecurities created a conflicting internal dialogue. As I navigated through the task at hand, the echoes of my fear of rejection resonated, adding a layer of complexity to the already challenging assignment.

Man panhandling outside upscale store facing fear of rejection

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