This 11-Year-Old Latino is a Shrink to New York Subway Riders


If you've ever waited for a train in a New York subway, you know all about how the crowded platform and putrid smell can immediately get you thinking about everything that's wrong in your life. Enter Ciro Ortiz, a 4-foot-8 sixth-grader from Brooklyn who offers emotional advice to L train riders.

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For the past nine Sundays, the 11-year-old Latino has set up shop at the Bedford station from noon to 2 p.m. For $2, passersby can get a five-minute session at Ortiz’s card table.

Many sit in for a quick counsel, and even feel a little better after receiving the kid tip.

Recently, Ortiz met with a couple who was having some difficulties after the wife became vegan. His advice: get used to it. “I told him that she didn’t get mad at him for eating meat,” the boy said. “She likes to eat what she wants and he likes to eat whatever he wants, so they’re just gonna have to deal with it.”

Ortiz started his side hustle after being bullied at school; he wanted to offer counseling to others who might also be feeling down.

“Ciro is really sensitive, and he’s had a hard time,” his mother, Jasmine Aequitas, a 35-year-old Puerto Rican poet, told The New York Post. “The first day he was out there [on the subway platform, giving counseling], he was very nervous and unsure of himself . . . A few Sundays later he’s come back saying, ‘I’ve met so many wonderful people. I’m gonna end up having so many friends.’ ”

On a good day, the little one makes $50. While that’s enough to get Ortiz, who loves “Minecraft” and comic books, some new gadgets, he prefers to use his income to give back to other kids.

“He buys food or snacks at school for kids who can’t afford them,” said the boy's father, Adam Ortiz, a 36-year-old nonprofit marketing director. “He’s not selfish with his money.”

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Let’s all try to be a little more like Ciro.

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About this author

Raquel Reichard, Politics & Culture Editor

Raquel is the Politics & Culture Editor and Latina magazine, writing on all things policy, social justice, cultura and health. Formerly at millennial news site Mic, Raquel's work can also be found at the New York TimesCosmo for Latinas, the Washington Post, the Independent and more. A proud NuyoFloRican chonga, when Raquel's not talking Latina feminism, racial justice, the "x" in Latinx or the prison industrial complex, she's going on and on about the Puerto Rican diaspora in Orlando, Fla. Follow her on TwitterInstagram and Snapchat at @RaquelReichard.


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