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‘I Asked a Woman on the Platform if She Had Any Tissues’

Dear Diary:

I was waiting for the B at Rockefeller Center when I noticed I was bleeding. I asked a woman on the platform if she had any tissues.

She started hunting through her bag as the train pulled into the station.

“I’ll get the next one,” she said, still rummaging.

She dug out some sanitizer wipes. The train was still there, and we jumped on just before it pulled out.

It wasn’t long before she realized she couldn’t find her phone. I called it several times hoping to see it vibrate in her bag, but the calls went to voice mail.

Other riders got caught up in what was going on, telling me to keep calling and telling her to go back to Rockefeller Center. She got off at 86th Street to head back.

I noticed I had missed some calls. Then I got another one.

“I think I have your phone,” a man said when I answered. I realized the woman must have dropped it when she was searching through her bag for me.

I asked the man to give the phone to the station agent. He said he would rather wait to give it to the woman himself. It would be safer, he said.

“Look at that,” he said. “She was helping you. Now I can help her.”

— Savita Bailur


Dear Diary:

It was a bitterly cold day on York Avenue: slush, ice, snow and wind.

I had just left the dry cleaner’s when I saw an older woman wearing a fur and tugging on one end of a taut leash.

At the other end, a soup bone of a dog was tugging back with great determination.

“C’mon,” the woman said. “We have to go home now.”

The dog just sat. It wouldn’t budge.

The woman pulled harder.

The dog pulled just as hard the other way.

There was no give on either end.

Finally, the woman looked down and addressed the dog.

“All right, already,” she said. “We’ll take a cab.”

The leash went slack, and they hopped into a taxi.

— Hank Goldstein


Dear Diary:

Papa stood
Tall in the streets
Of Alphabet City
Dressed in Russian attire
While six offspring
Followed the shining
Leather boots
So they could
Dance
When his accordion
Sliced the air
With a song of the family.

— Kathryn Anne Sweeney-James


Dear Diary:

I was visiting New York City in 2000, and my son, who lived in Brooklyn with his family, told me we were all going to an art show in Red Hook. He asked if there was anything else I wanted to see or do while we were out.

I said that even though I had been born in Brooklyn in 1938, I had never been back to my birthplace, an apartment house at 1901 Avenue P, and would like to do that.

I felt eager as we drove there. We found a parking spot right in front and jumped out to take a picture of me at the front door. I have one of my mother standing in the same spot when she was pregnant with me.

Several older women were sitting on lawn chairs on the sidewalk. When they saw our family laughing and taking pictures, one of them called me over and asked why we were there.

I said I had been born there but had moved away when I was still an infant.

After chatting briefly, my family and I walked back toward our car.

Another woman called out to me.

“I overheard that you lived here,” she said. “When was that?”

“Nineteen thirty-eight,” I said, “but only for a short time.”

The woman said that she had been living there since then. She asked whether I remembered anyone from that time.

I said that I knew my mother had a close friend named Fanny Rubell, that she had a daughter the same age as me, that she and my mother had walked their baby carriages together and that they had spoken on the phone long after we moved away.

“I am Fanny Rubell!” the woman exclaimed.

— Brenda Kingsley


Dear Diary:

A few years ago, I was at a wedding in Berlin. Most of the guests were German, but sitting across from me was an American who, it turned out, also lived in New York City.

“Where do you live in the city?” I asked her.

“Upper Gramercy,” she said.

“Wouldn’t that be considered Murray Hill?” I said.

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