Meet The Guitarist That Plays All Day In The Subway, But Refuses To Keep Anything He Makes

Will Boyajian feels there’s another population that needs that money more than him.

Two years ago, Will Boyajian made a New Year's resolution to give every time someone asked him for money. When he doesn't have cash on him, he's taken individuals into a convenience store and asked them to pick out anything they want. He remembers meeting a man once who in his words, "looked like an old school rocker" and they got to talking about music. The man told Boyajian that he used to go into guitar stores to play the instruments, but his clothes had since become too dirty that he couldn't go into those stores anymore. So, Boyajian gave him the shirt he was wearing. 

It is this mentality of "why would you refuse someone when it's in your power to give" that led Boyajian to spend 5-6 hours a day busking on the platform of the A/C subway line at the 42nd Street station in New York City and his refusal at the end of the day to keep any of the money he's made playing guitar.

When he plays, he props a sign up against his case that reads "if you're homeless or need help take as much as you need from the case," and he genuinely means it. As part of a project he calls "Hopeful Cases" each day, Boyajian makes about $400 that, before he goes home, is taken by people who need it more than him or is used to buy single-ride Metro Cards that he hands out.

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In the process, he hopes to destigmatize the homeless population, especially the idea that it's unfair that some people have to work, while these people can just take. 

"It's scary to approach the homeless," Boyajian told A Plus. "It's also scary because none of us are that far from it." 

Boyajian said he's gotten questions about what happens if someone clears out the whole case or if someone takes money who doesn't seem like he or she especially needs it, but he doesn't feel like it's his place to judge. 

"I think the whole project is about changing the way we give," he said. "I would rather see someone who had no money stop and talk to them and see how they can help them than someone just give them a dollar and keep walking."

While he's playing, Boyajian is also watching what happens around him and has taken on a pseudo-urban ethnographer role. He loves talking to the homeless about their lives, and he loves being surprised at the generosity of others.

He's seen people drop $20 bills in the case, and he knows the man who always gives $5 on his way to work. He saw a man approach the case once, certain that he was going to take money out of it, but the man ended up dropping in a few bills instead.

"It's given me a tremendous faith in this city," he said. "I think a the sign of how a society does is how we treat our poorest and I would like us to treat ours better. They're human. They're just like us."

Boyajian hopes to expand the project to other major subway stops in New York City, and that, eventually, there will be a time when there will be someone affiliated with Hopeful Cases is at major stations almost constantly so the homeless population knows there is someone there if they need it.

To volunteer as a musician for the project, email hopefulcases@gmail.com.

(H/T: New York Post)

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