‘I Ordered a Sandwich and Began Chatting With the Proprietor’

Valuable Tips

Dear Diary:

I was taking a walk in the Wall Street area a few years ago when I decided to pop into a deli.

I ordered a sandwich and began chatting with the proprietor as he made it. Our conversation eventually turned to the shop’s location.

I asked whether being in the Financial District ever caused him to play the stock market or led to his getting valuable tips from informed customers.

He paused his sandwich-making, put down his knife and looked at me with a perplexed expression.

“Every day, those brokers come in here,” he said. “They get their bagels, sandwiches, doughnuts, coffee, cigarettes … ”

He paused again and pointed toward the door of his shop.

“ … and every day, they’re out there on the sidewalk, pushing and shoving on a door that is clearly marked ‘pull.’”

— Steven Scharff

Empty Seat

Dear Diary:

I was making my regular morning commute from my home in Park Slope to my office in Midtown Manhattan.

While I was waiting for the F train at the Seventh Avenue stop, I saw my friend Ronit, a talented musician, on her way to her day job.

When the train arrived, we found two seats together. The train continued to fill up as it headed into Manhattan, but it was much less crowded by the time we got to 23rd Street.

At that point, a seat opened up next to us, and an older woman began to make her way toward it. The train began moving and jolted her right into our laps. She gathered herself, apologized and took the empty seat.

Ronit and I got off at Rockefeller Center. As we began to go our separate ways, she turned to me.

“At least I can tell my boss that I’m late because Patti Smith fell on my lap,” she said.

— Doug Schneider

Next Question

Dear Diary:

I am 90 years old. One day, when I was leaving my doctor’s office, the receptionist stopped me.

“Are you checking out?” she asked.

I suggested she might want to phrase her question differently.

— Sandra Weiss

Riding the QM6

Dear Diary:

Every Thursday, I take the QM6 bus from Manhattan to North Shore Towers in Queens to a diner for a weekly lunch meeting of my ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out) group.

We spend a few hours discussing — and, many times, solving — the world’s problems. It is a challenging and fulfilling way to spend the time.

Once, as I boarded the bus, the driver asked if I was heading to my usual stop. I said I was and explained why.

When I got on the bus for my excursion into Queens the following week, the same driver told me his father-in-law had recently retired to Florida and needed something to get him out of the house.

He said he had told his wife about my group and had suggested his father-in-law should do something similar.

One Thursday not long after that, I was at the diner with my friends when I heard a man’s voice interrupt the conversation. It was the bus driver.

“You guys got it right,” he said. “My father-in-law needs a place like this.”

— Arthur Flug

Quick Stop

Dear Diary:

On a bitter-cold Christmas Day in 1995, my wife and I were visiting Manhattan with our 2-year-old son.

After a day of shopping, we got on a crosstown bus filled with the usual group of chilled New York faces looking holiday-tired.

Across from us sat an older woman who was all bundled up and clutching more gift-filled shopping bags than it would seem she could carry comfortably. Next to her sat a man who appeared to be sleeping. At one of the stops, the driver called out to him.

“Hey, fellow,” the driver said. “This is your stop. You asked me to tell you.”

The man opened his eyes, waved a thank you, got off the bus and walked into a nearby park.

The woman with the packages called after him as he was heading for the door.

“Sir,” she said. “You forgot your hat!”

But he didn’t notice and walked on.

The woman then called to the driver.

“Mister, that man forgot his hat, and it’s going to be bitter cold tonight,” she said. “Can you stop and wait for me to run and give it to him.”

The driver told her that he could not stop the bus to wait, but that he would drive slowly and pick her up at the next corner.

Looking anxious, she gathered her bags and packages and the knit cap the man had left behind. She caught up to him, gave him his hat and then ran to the next corner.

True to his word, the driver moved very slowly so he could meet her at the corner. Just as the bus got to the corner, so did she.

She climbed back onto the bus, the doors closed and the passengers all burst into applause.

— James Roddy

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee

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