I'm walking home last night from the gym when I pass this guy panhandling on the street in front of the Sheraton Manhattan Hotel on Seventh Avenue. He holds out his cup and I pass by him because 1) I'm pretty much broke myself and 2) I have no spare change that I can actually spare.
As I pass by him, the guy hits my elbow and subsequently his money spills out of his cup and onto the sidewalk. I turn to help him pick up the change when it occurs me that HE hit ME and he caused his change to hit the sidewalk. So I stopped and he looks at me and I said, "What are you looking at me for? You're the one who hit me!" He starts cursing at me to get the fuck out of his face and I thought for a second he was going to take a swing at me but he just bent over and started picking up his money with my checking over my shoulder to make sure he wasn't going to run up and attack me from behind.
The bellman outside the Sheraton Manhattan pulled me aside and told me that I was smart enough not to fall for that guy's M.O. He intentionally walks into people or bangs them just enough so they thing they may have caused him to drop his change, help him pick it up, and then give him cash for disturbing him.
I told him that the only thing that tipped me off that I hadn't done it was the fact that he had to swing his arm up to hit the underside of my elbow (I was carrying my bag on that shoulder) as I passed by him. I knew there was no way I could have hit him because if I had swung my arm down to hit him then his arm would have gone down and the cup would have fallen from his hand. But with him hitting me, his cup went up and the change flew out. It was biomechanics and physics all in one, I said.
The bellman looked at me after I got done explaining this and said, "Or maybe you just thought something was a little fishy."
"Yeah, that too," I said.