Although you have come to predict certain aspects of the busk, it will be different each time—like weather. And by the way, weather is everything.
You need to wear sunscreen. Even if it is cold. Even if you are going to stand in the shade. The sun is unrelenting here. Respect it.
You will think you are too late for the lunch hour, but think again. Some of these people are just leaving their offices at 12:45 for a business lunch. And although they are not as generous as tourist families, they hear you, so sing out.
Kids will stop, or they will try to wrench their parents’ arms in your direction. It happened to Joshua Bell, and it will happen to you. The kids seem to hear the music differently, and they are not yet jaded. They may think you are a freak, but they do not think you are a beggar. All they know is, you are making music outside. Two of them will convince their parents to give them a few coins that are ultimately destined for your case. They approach during Fear of Trains and you hope the timing is just right so they do not have to hear you say “KKK.” They don’t, but they and their parents linger and then try to dance. It may be the first time they have heard a Stephin Merritt song. They do not know that his songs are not for dancing.
A young man calling himself Calem will come forward and tell you he is about to start on the piano a block away, and that he is afraid he will drown you out. It is nice of him to warn you, and you engage in polite conversation, leaning heavily on what you assume to be a shared busker code or context. He is a fantastic player, and you do end up moving around the tree to stand near Hip Consignment, but Calem still has a lot of set-up to do by the time your voice is waning. (Among other things, he has to go retrieve his piano bench from an adjacent business where he stores it.)
Sheila from the consignment shop invites you to play right in front of her store. You will serenade her with an original song because she is a businesswoman and she understands the notion that You Are What You Repeat. She compliments your voice, which is enough to refresh it for another thirty minutes.
A group of young guys are eating on the steps nearby and they want to know your story. You say just enough but are leery of them. They request an Eagles song. (You will consider learning one for just such an occasion, but note that that would be very unDude.) You give them Dylan instead, and passers-by will drop a few more dollars in your case. The guys, also, will give the change from their Qdoba lunch, and you’re in business. This will give you the courage to play another original, and several more dollars will end up at your feet as you rock your way through General Things.
By this time your bag will be in the sun, so think about putting less jelly on your sandwich next time. On second thought, skip the jelly. Peanut butter has protein.