I have a long time friend who, like I, has been self employed for his entire adult life. He was a carpenter and, like any freelancer and unlike a small business owner, constantly needed to hunt for future jobs. From time to time I would inquire about his existing work prospects. If he was between big jobs and only had small jobs here and there, he would just comment that all he had were "crumbs, just crumbs." Crumbs became our private metaphor for those things which are relatively inconsequential to life. Akin to panning for gold in a world of miners.
There has been lots of talk lately about gold as an investment and store of value in a time of economic uncertainty. Many have come to America and New York City to stake their claim.
The very nature of New York City is a place of transients. People come and go for a variety of reasons. Many find that it is not to their liking or fulfilling the dreams they had. The streets are not paved with gold, rather with gold ore, and now require lots of mining.
Perhaps the prospect of finding gold is one reason I came to New York City, but like any gold strike, e.g. the Internet, the easy money has been made, and little gold will be found lying in plain view. Panning for gold has given way to higher technology. Mining in the modern world and extracting precious metals from ore is going to be competitive and will require special equipment, training, expertise and investment in tools. Otherwise, if you're lucky, you are going to get crumbs.
Of course, in any boom town, the crumbs will be much better than crumbs elsewhere. Street performers, as others, can make much more here than anywhere else. The lure is a mirage and a bit of a catch-22. The potential earnings from vending in a boom town are offset by the cost of living there. Perhaps you can sell eggs for a dollar a piece, but come time to eat, you're in the same predicament as everyone else. There is opportunity to pick up a few dollars for the wanderer passing through, but how is he or she to live here for any extended time? There are very few margins left to live in.
At first, the prospect of easy and immediate cash is very appealing, as is a life without a 9-to-5 job routine or other obligations. However, the free spirits that pass through New York City find out very quickly how inhospitable the city is to the less-than-well-heeled. And soon they will see those dollars in their hat or suitcase, just like my friend and me. They, too, will be tired of crumbs...