I was expecting a friend to visit me at my fourth-floor Manhattan walk-up last summer. In the time-honored New York City way, when she called to say she had arrived I opened my window and threw a packet with the front-door key inside down to her.
Unfortunately, the packet got caught in the branch of a tree in all its full-leafed glory. My friend, Jocelyn, asked two women who were walking by to help dislodge the packet.
The three of them grabbed the trunk and tried to shake it, but the tree wouldn’t move. One of the women took off one of her new, white sneakers and threw it at the packet several times. On the fourth try, the shoelace stuck on a twig.
The other woman, hoping to knock down the shoe, threw her cane at the tree. Several throws later, the cane became hooked onto a branch. Without a goodbye or a wave, they limped off down Ninth Avenue.
Winter came and all of the leaves fell off the tree. The shoe was still hanging there. The packet and the cane were nowhere to be seen.
— Shela Xoregos
At Queens Plaza
I was on my way home from work. I got off at my stop, Queens Plaza, and was walking down the platform when I saw someone with dozens of balloons trying to get onto the train.
The doors were starting to close, and the person at the other end of the balloons was struggling to pull them inside in time.
I rushed over and bapped all of the balloons into the car — Bap! Bap! Bap! — like I was playing a game of Whac-a-Mole.
There were so many balloons that I couldn’t see who was holding them, and they couldn’t see me. The doors closed and the train pulled away. I walked all the way home with a huge smile on my face.
— Liz Khoo
I had just moved to New York from Texas, and I loved going to the city’s small neighborhood grocery stores. They were so different from the great big suburban ones I was used to.
One day, I went to Grace’s Marketplace on the Upper East Sideand I overheard a customer questioning the man behind the counter.
“Do you have fresh escargot?” the customer said.
“No,” the counterman said. “But we have snails in a can!”
— Kate Marcus
Tuxedos and Flip-Flops
It was the first week of April last year. Having recently become employed again, I was equal parts relieved and completely overwhelmed by heading back into the thick of work.
Sitting in Tompkins Square Park on a midmorning coffee break, I got word of a last-minute issue with a client and called a colleague for help.
“I’m going to scream,” I said into the phone. “This guy on the bench next to me is going to be freaked out.”
I glanced at the man, who was smoking a cigarette in silence. He seemed to be, like me, in his mid- to late 20s.
After ending the call, I let out an exasperated grunt and buried my face back in my email.
“Was that your scream?” the man on the bench said. He was grinning.
“Oh, no,” I spluttered. I was blushing. “I can’t do that.”
“Yes, you can,” he insisted. “I’ll do it with you.”
And to my surprise, he began to scream, loud enough to disturb several pigeons but shallow enough to assure passers-by of the situation’s good-humored nature.
Bewildered and desperate not to leave him hanging, I — against every instinct I had — started to scream too. The few seconds of joined cacophony quickly turned into shared laughter, and I relaxed into the bench with a smile.
Soon, the park resumed its quiet, and the pigeons settled back to their scavenging. The man rose, wished me a good day and walked away.
I was left bewildered and breathless and feeling much, much better.
— Morgan Golumbuk
When my wife and I were married, we opted to go to the City Clerk’s office in Lower Manhattan. Only my wife’s brother and sister-in-law accompanied us. Upon arriving, we took a number and sat on a bench to await our turn in one of the small wedding chapels.
As we sat there, we were amazed at the array of outfits worn by the other couples, everything from a man in a tuxedo with a woman in a short gown to a couple who were both wearing T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops.
Numbers were called much as they are at the Department of Motor Vehicles. When we heard ours, we entered the small chapel and met the officiant who would marry us.
“Which service would you prefer” he asked. “The short version or the long?”
We asked what the difference was.
“About a minute,” he replied.
— Kenneth Sinclair
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Illustrations by Agnes Lee