The Latest ‘New Squeegee Men’ Are Fake Buddhist Monks

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Burmese Monks Fast And Meditate For Cyclone Victims In Myanmar
Real Buddhist monks pray outside United Nations headquarters on May 15, 2008 in New York City. Photo: Mario Tama/2008 Getty Images

We can always rely on the New York Post to alert us when various “new squeegee men” — from bathroom attendants to a panhandling pig to actual squeegee men — threaten to return the city to the “bad old days.” On Sunday the paper sounded the alarm once again, proclaiming “Fake Buddhist monks are the new squeegee men of New York.” These “holy terrors” have appeared on the High Line, in Bryant Park, and in Times Square demanding $40 or more, and shouting at confused tourists who only offer up a few dollars. “We recognize that this is an issue and we are in discussions with the NYC Parks Department to address the matter,” said Martin Nembhard, vice-president of park operations for Friends of the High Line, who encouraged people to report such behavior to Parks Department officers.

In addition to the harassment of parkgoers, there are some other obvious signs that the men are just impersonating Buddhist monks: They’ve been spotted smoking, drinking, and changing out of their religious garb after their shift. They actually sound more like Times Square’s costumed superheros than squeegee men, but no matter — the NYPD has little patience for either group.