I was walking in Manhattan with my family when we noticed a man who was standing in the street near the curb on the opposite side, blocking a car that wanted to take the space. We figured he was trying to save the space for someone who was circling the area.
We watched as the car edged forward toward the man, who stood his ground. After almost touching him, the driver of the car, obviously furious, gave up and zoomed away.
At that point, my brother crossed over and stood in the street at a distance from the man who was saving the space.
“Do you mind if I double park,” my brother said.
— Robert Goldstein
The bus was crowded when my sister Joan and I got on. Standing room only. We grabbed an overhead rail and hung on.
At 42nd Street, many of the passengers got off, and we were lucky to grab two seats together right behind the driver before a new crowd boarded.
As the bus, now filled again with standing riders, proceeded, I noticed that the seat next to the one where Joan was sitting was empty.
One after another, passengers approached the empty seat, looked down and moved on.
Strange, I thought. Then I looked more closely and saw the reason: There was a ripe banana in the middle of the seat.
I nudged Joan and warned her that an unobservant person might come along and just plop down on the seat. If that happened, I said, she could wind up with banana purée all over her clothes.
She picked the banana up carefully and placed it on the window ledge behind the seat. Someone sat there immediately.
We got off at 21st Street. The banana continued on downtown.
— Marie King
Walking in New York requires constant calculations. I treat every movement from point A to point B as an exercise in maximum efficiency.
I make it sort of a game: the pace I must keep to reach my destination in time; how far I can stand from the curb without endangering myself; how long a stride or jump to avoid a hole or puddle.
I work in Midtown and pass through Grand Central Terminal at least twice a day. It’s an area where such calculations are essential to avoiding close calls, minor collisions or simply awkward moments.
Not long ago, I was walking near 46th Street and Park Avenue. There was a man walking alongside me, and we were keeping the same brisk pace.
I noticed that four people were heading our way. Three of them adjusted their trajectories to avoid us, while one, a woman, continued to walk directly toward the man next to me.
Did she plan to walk between us? Would she collide with him in a moment of pain and awkwardness? The moment of truth was inches away. I prepared for impact.
And then they kissed. It wasn’t a miscalculation after all.
— James L. Ansorge
At the Library
It was December 2018, and I was walking through Bedford-Stuyvesant after a job interview when my phone rang.
It was a man from the company where I had just interviewed. He asked if could update my résumé. The layout was wrong and some of the text I had included as part of my profile was superfluous, he said.
I didn’t have a computer and hadn’t even found an apartment yet and he needed a final draft within the hour.
Desperate, I entered the public library on Franklin Avenue near Hancock Street.
The woman at the front desk said that I couldn’t use the computers without a library card and that I couldn’t apply for a card without an address. When I explained the dire nature of my situation, she stood up from her computer.
“Use mine,” she said.
As she and the people who were lined up waiting to check out books cheering me on and offering to review my work, I edited the document and fired it off.
Nine months later, I was working in my dream job.
— Sam van Roon
On Pleasant Avenue
I was waiting to cross Pleasant Avenue going east toward Costco. I noticed an attractive young man and woman on the other side waiting to cross in my direction.
They didn’t have the light, but the young man kept trying to cross anyway. The young woman, mindful of the traffic that was approaching from the north and south, kept holding him back.
When the light finally changed, we all began to cross the avenue. As I passed the couple, I heard the young man speak.
“This is the most awkward Tinder date,” he said. “I’m going to delete this app.”
— Kathleen B. Haskins
Illustrations by Agnes Lee