La Guardia Airport was busy but calm on the day after Thanksgiving. I arrived at Terminal B early enough for a relaxing lunch at a lounge near Gate 22.
At 12:15, an attendant began the preboarding announcements for our flight. He explained the order in which we would board and the layout of the plane, advising which seats were on the window: A and F.
“Seats C are on the aisle,” he continued, as well as seats D, as in … ”
He hesitated, apparently searching for a word.
“ … doughnut,” he said. “’Cause I’m hungry.”
— Paul Klenk
My wife and I were on the N headed to a restaurant in Queens on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.
The train pulled into the Queensboro Plaza station, and passengers danced their way in and out of the busy doors. The 7 train was waiting across the platform to allow riders to make a transfer.
The bell signaled that the doors were about to close, but they remained open a little longer than usual even after everyone seemed to have taken seats. Finally, the train left the station.
“What took you so long?” the conductor announced over the loudspeaker to a mystery passenger. “There was plenty of time back there to get across the platform!”
Everyone looked at one another in surprise. Then laughter filled the car as we rolled on to the next stop.
— Ramy Fakhr
45 Minutes in Central Park
Between the hours of 9 and 10
On a bench adjacent to mine
Sat a man who was not put together
A man in the grip of some battle
Big drops of rain began to fall
Raindrops by the tablespoon
The man refused to move
A woman with a terrier
Stopped as if she knew him
Offering dry comfort
Underneath her umbrella
The man began to cry
What determines luck, who makes up the rules?
Why is value attached to everything but me?
The woman sat by his side
Put her arm around his shoulder
In silence, the umbrella twirled
Until she offered explanation
Everything will be fine, she said
Just not today
— Danny Klecko
My best friend and I were on our way to get pizza near Fordham’s Manhattan campus on a warm spring day in the 1980s when we saw a small crowd of people gathered on the sidewalk. They were looking up and pointing.
Looking up ourselves, we saw a sparrow that was chirping furiously and appeared to be stuck to the pole. Everyone seemed concerned but there was nothing to be done because the bird was out of reach.
My friend and I hurried to a phone booth on the corner and called the operator. We told her about the little bird and asked what we could do.
She gave us the number of the nearest firehouse and told us to call. My friend repeated the number over and over so we wouldn’t forget it before we dialed.
The firefighter who answered the call told us that they would be right over but that they would have to leave if they got an emergency call whether or not they had been able to free the bird.
A few minutes later, a fire engine pulled up. Its siren wasn’t on but its lights were flashing.
A ladder went up against the pole, and a firefighter climbed up. He found that a piece of twine had gotten tangled around the bird’s leg.
The firefighter freed the sparrow, cradled it in his large, gloved hand, climbed back down and set it carefully on the grass beneath a tree.
The crowd cheered. My friend and I continued on our way. We were really ready for that pizza now
— Theoni Angelopoulos
Like a Movie Star
It was fall 1994, and I was working at a family medical clinic across the street from the Bronx Criminal Court on 161st Street.
One day, I stopped at a fast-food place for my coffee as I had regularly for the past five years. A young woman was on her knees cleaning the front of the counter. She looked up at me as I placed my order.
“You look like a movie star,” she said emphatically.
Flattered, I smiled and nodded politely so as not let her down.
“Wait,” she said as I stood there silently, “let me think.”
I remained silent as she rummaged through her memory.
“Don’t tell me,” she said, waving her hand as if to swat away anything I might say and snapping her fingers to summon the actor’s name.
“Hold on, hold on,” she continued, her eyes now closed as she gestured with her hands.
“OK,” she said, opening her eyes after a few seconds. “That’s it. I got it.”
I prepared myself to hear the name of a handsome, prominent, Oscar-winning actor.
“You look like the dead guy in ‘Weekend at Bernie’s,’” she said.
— Luis H. Zayas
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Illustrations by Agnes Lee