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“ Once on board, we noticed that some groups of people were standing together ”

Dear Diary:

A few years ago my wife and I came down from Connecticut to take the Circle Line around Manhattan.

Once on board, we noticed groups of people glued together. We learned that it was engineers from other countries who had come to the United States to study traffic patterns in major cities here.

As I approached a well-dressed and well-groomed member of the group, I leaned forward slightly at the waist and started talking to him hesitantly.

“And. What. Country. Are. You. From. Sir?” I asked.

“I. A Mr. From. Phoenix. Arizona. USA,” he said. A m. In. Load. Of this. Group.”

– Jack Lupkas

Dear Diary:

I was shopping when I noticed an older woman picking the boxes of cherry tomatoes, as I was.

“I’ve been burned by these before,” I told him.

She opened one of the boxes, took out a tomato and put it in her mouth.

“You just have to make sure they’re fresh,” she says.

“But these aren’t quite as nice – they’re wrinkled,” I said, pointing to the more expensive heirloom tomatoes. “Try them out.”

“You know,” she said, putting another tomato in her mouth, “anything that has wrinkles doesn’t look bad.”

– Michael Rossano

Dear Diary:

I was on an M23, heading west towards Chelsea Piers on a spring afternoon. The bus was relatively quiet; most of the passengers were older women seated with carts full of shopping bags.

At a stop, a young man in a suit got on. He held out his MetroCard, looking for the slot he was supposed to stick it to to pay for his ticket. The driver pointed to the ticket booths on the sidewalk.

“You have to get a pass there,” she said. “Go ahead, I’ll wait.”

Looking confused, the man got off the bus. It was clearly his first experience with Select Bus Service, and with the sidewalk kiosks that distribute the necessary tickets for such buses. He seemed to freeze at the thought of a bus full of passengers waiting for him to know what to do.

Fortunately, most of the passengers were regular passengers who were happy to help.

“Push the button!” a woman wheezed through her window. “Yes, the button. There is only one. Yes!”

He did as he was told.

“This is it,” said a second woman a few seats away. “Now insert the card.”

Again, the man followed the instructions given to him. Then, with a relieved look, he pulled his MetroCard out of the kiosk and rushed to the bus.

“No no!” yelled a group of passengers, all gesturing frantically towards the kiosk. “Get the ticket! The ticket! THE TICKET!

Sheepishly, the man returned to the machine, grabbed the piece of paper and leaped towards the bus.

The applause that erupted as he climbed back on board seemed to combine heartfelt congratulations on a job well done with a slight hint of good-natured mockery.

The doors closed and we went.

– Yael Schick

Dear Diary:

When my husband and I moved to New York City, we spent an exhausting week looking for an apartment. Finally, we found the perfect place for us: a sunny and charming room on the Upper West Side.

The real estate agent told us that in order to secure the apartment we had to give him a cash deposit as soon as possible. So right after we left his office, I ran down the street looking for an ATM. I was determined to pay him that down payment before anyone could.

As I walked down a side street towards Columbus Avenue, I felt rather embarrassed and silly to run down the street. Just then I saw a middle aged woman running my way at full speed.

She must have known that we were both on an urgent mission, for she smiled as she walked past me.

“We will get there!” she screamed.

– Shani Zinder

Dear Diary:

When I was growing up in Brooklyn in the years after WWII, my dad came and went to Manhattan on the subway every day.

One day when he arrived home he said he had had an unusual experience on a crowded train. He had managed to secure a seat in downtown Manhattan, but when the train reached Nevins Street in Brooklyn, a young woman had leaned over and asked if he would be willing to give way to him. She was, she said, pregnant.

My father gave her her seat, and as the train pulled into our station – Church Avenue on the IRT – he wished her luck and pointed out that she didn’t look pregnant yet.

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