Getting a little neighborhood gossip, scooting upstream and more reader tales of New York City in this week’s Metropolitan Diary.
I was waiting to cross Eighth Avenue at 23rd Street when an older woman asked me if I would help her cross the street.
I offered her my arm, and we chatted as we walked the two blocks to her apartment. At one point, we passed an older man who was using a walker.
The woman whispered to me that he lived in her building and was not very nice.
After dropping her at the entrance to her building, I walked past the man with the walker. He motioned for me to stop.
“That was so nice of you to help her,” he said. “Nobody in our building likes her. She’s really mean.”
— Paul Breen
The fish can’t jump
the dam upstream,
but fish eggs stuck
on duck legs do.
And so Gen Next
begets the rest
the stream anew.
Pray tell me, Mister,
who are you
to tell me what
I cannot do?
I have two legs
and a pair of shoes,
so I’ll scoot
my way past you!
— Tom Furlong
My friend had gotten a promotion at work, and I was taking him out to dinner to celebrate.
He chose a restaurant near Union Square that we hadn’t been to before, a small place with a limited menu. The special that night, pork Milanese, sounded delicious. That’s what I ordered when the waiter came to our table.
“I’m afraid I sold the last one,” he said, nodding toward the table adjacent to ours.
The woman sitting directly next to me shrugged sheepishly.
“Sorry!” she said. “I’ll give you a bite when it comes.”
We all laughed. The waiter suggested I order the pork off the regular menu, and I did.
When our neighbors’ meals arrived, I made sure not to look their way for fear the woman might think I had misunderstood her joke to be a genuine offer.
After a few minutes, I felt her nudge me.
“Get in here!” she said, sliding her plate toward me so I could stab a bite. It was delicious.
When my meal arrived moments later, I asked if she would like to try it.
“Well, it’s only fair,” she said, taking a bite and chewing thoughtfully.
“Yours is better,” I said.
My friend was horrified by the exchange.
“If you two do this with dessert,” he said, “I’m leaving.”
— Timothy Deer
On a Monday morning after a snowstorm, I shoveled a path from the sidewalk to the street in front of my Brooklyn home.
The path was long, and there had not been a good way across the snow to the street before I made it.
I was expecting a delivery: an ornately carved, 1865 marble fireplace from a townhouse in the East 50s that was to be demolished. The fireplace was exquisite, and I thought I would enjoy looking at it in my plain front room.
As I waited, I watched other people use my path to the street. It became so popular I got nervous that it would be blocked when the movers arrived.
When they did, the path was clear. There were two of them, and they unloaded the fireplace carefully in four sections and navigated the path just fine.
Following them inside, I suddenly heard myself scream: The largest and last piece of the fireplace had shattered, seeming almost to implode.
The men staggered around in a giant cloud of dust. They said they were sorry, that it wasn’t their fault — which, of course, was true.
Soon, they left, and I stood with my expensive pile of rubble. I looked at the empty wall where the beautiful old piece would have gone. I removed the big pieces of broken marble. Then the little pieces and the chunks of plaster.
Finally, I swept the dust into a paper bag. Later, I knew, I would have to mop.
All afternoon, I sat at the front window and watched my path. A woman crossed with a tiny dog. The passenger door of a taxi glided to a stop, exactly level with the opening I had created.
A man carrying a plastic bag filled with empty cans walked through sideways. And a courier towing a cart of packages left tracks that made my path ever so slightly wider.
— Megan Tucker Orringer
I was on the 79th Street crosstown bus, and I was struggling with my iPhone. It had frozen solid. With my other hand, I was trying to keep my rolling walker from getting away. Just one of those days.
Across from me was a young woman in a puffy jacket and furry boots.
“Can I help?” she asked.
“Yes, please,” I said, gratefully handing over the phone. “Do you think you can fix it?”
“Oh, of course,” she said coolly. “I’m a millennial!”
And fix it she did.
— Ephraim Lewis
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‘We Chatted as We Walked the Two Blocks to Her Apartment’ – The New York Times