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‘My Waitress Had Also Been Told That She Would Soon Be Laid Off’

Dear Diary:

In the mid-2000s, I worked for a company with offices on Park Avenue. I lived in Denver then and would fly to New York for meetings several times a year, staying at the company’s suites at the Waldorf Towers.

I often had breakfast at the hotel’s Coffee House, at 50th Street on the Lexington Avenue side. My usual order was tea and toast. The tea was served in a small pink teapot with a silver rim, a Waldorf signature.

The little teapots became a comforting morning staple on these trips. I was served by the same waitress over a period of years, and I often mentioned to her how I loved the teapots.

In October 2014, I read that the Waldorf had been sold. Then, while on my next trip to New York, I was notified that my company would be merging my division with one in Fort Worth and that I, along with 300 others, would be laid off. The trip would be my last.

The next morning I had my usual breakfast at the Coffee House. My waitress had also been told that she would soon be laid off. I said I would miss her and, of course, my little pink teapots.

It was my last morning at the hotel and I had already checked out. My travel bag was open on the floor next to the booth where I was sitting. I stepped away for a few minutes, returned, tipped the waitress and left for the last time. It was a sad morning.

When I got home to Denver and unpacked my bag, I found a little pink teapot wrapped in a hotel napkin along with a note. It said all of the old Waldorf china and silver was to be sold and that this was a souvenir from my many breakfasts there, compliments of a longtime friend.

— Mary F. Cook

Dear Diary:

I am on the F train
And two seats away is a man
Whose hair is too gray
For his sneakers.
He sits his iced coffee
On the space between us
Because it is too cold
To hold in his iPhone hands,
And I begin preparing
The furious words
I will say
If it tips over
And spills on me.
It never does,
But at least I was ready.

— Sarah Peele

Dear Diary:

Walking uptown on Fifth Avenue I heard Latin music blasting out of a little red car.

As the driver sped by, he had one hand on the wheel and the other was out the sunroof.

In time to the music, he was shaking a bright yellow maraca.

— Linda Schonfeld

Dear Diary:

For years, Mr. Kim and I have been racing to beat the clock: I try to get home from work before his dry-cleaning shop closes, and he tries to keep his delivery man around to help me bring my clothes home.

Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, and sometimes we just wait until Saturday.

Recently, I called him from the subway to say that I would be making a pickup. We had a few confused exchanges, I entered a tunnel, we were disconnected and the race to beat the clock began.

I missed the delivery man, but Mr. Kim and I were happy to see each other. We chatted while he twist-tied four bundles of shirts. Seeing that I was already carrying two bags, he came out front to his sewing machine in a panic and started to dig through a heap of pants and jackets.

From the middle of the pile, like a sorcerer, he pulled out two matching, navy-blue cuffs that had been cut off the pants legs they once belonged to.

He looped them into a figure eight, and then hung two bundles from each loop, 25 shirts on hangers that he then draped over my shoulder, front and back.

It was the easiest giant load of laundry, dirty or clean, that I have ever hauled happily down Broadway and the long hill to Riverside Drive.

— Paul Klenk

Dear Diary:

The downtown A train was quiet and nearly empty as I rode downtown after a meeting in Midtown. Across from me was a young man with an extremely large plastic container of peeled garlic cloves.

Every so often, he would unscrew the lid and let the garlic aroma fill the subway car. Then he would intently re-tighten it until it was time for the next infusion.

No one complained.

— Karen Faye Richardson

Illustrations by Agnes Lee

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