I was headed to work on a downtown No. 1. I was standing in the middle of the car.
At 125th Street, a woman in the seat in front of me turned to the man sitting next to her.
“I loved that book,” she said.
He turned to her and smiled. They began to talk about the book and about the movie adaptation. She pulled a book out of her bag to show him what she was reading.
I wondered whether they knew each other. Then they shook hands and introduced themselves. I checked their left hands. No rings.
The train continued on. By now, they were laughing. Their shoulders were touching. It was like the beginning to a romantic comedy, a real-life meet-cute.
We got to 72nd Street, and they were still chatting away. Would this be the last time they spoke?
The train approached 59th Street.
“Maybe I could give you my number and we can talk some more?” the man said.
They exchanged phones, saving each other’s contact information.
I got off at 50th Street. It was no longer just a regular day.
— Alliana Semjen
New Year’s Tune
On New Year’s Eve, we let our 3-year-old bring his guitar along to a friend’s apartment near Times Square. It was a brand-new mini six-string that he hadn’t put down since getting it for Christmas. He wanted to sing a song after the ball dropped, and I was trying to be a cool dad.
It was pouring rain in Brooklyn, and after three canceled Ubers, we found a green taxi. We were soaking wet, two hours late and our son was yapping the whole time to the driver about how he was going to play his song.
At West 54th Street and Eighth Avenue, we stepped out of the cab. It drove off just as an officer was telling us we had to walk four blocks north, then cross to the next avenue to come back down.
That’s when our son asked us where his guitar was. I realized I had left it in the taxi.
Our boy cried. My husband explained that we had lost the instrument, but that an act of kindness might bring it back.
Of course, it took more than that: a report with the Taxi and Limousine Commission, calls to two police precincts and, finally, the help of a detective who connected us to the driver, who had been trying to find us.
Two days later, he pulled onto our street and jumped out of the cab with the guitar in hand.
“I remembered you,” he shouted to my son. “Now you can play your song!”
— Corvette Hunt
I was standing on the checkout line at Fairway with a package of smoked salmon and some dry roasted cashews.
A man approached me.
“Are you in hardware?” he asked.
I was totally baffled.
He pointed at the items I was holding.
“Nuts and lox,” he said.
— John Lipman
In spring 2009, I was working throughout Chinatown and the Lower East Side as a home-health physical therapist. I did not have an office where I could to write up my notes, use a clean restroom or have lunch.
On one particularly exhausting day, I started out at a public housing complex on Rutgers Street before stopping at a tenement on the Bowery and then a beautiful prewar apartment in SoHo.
By then, it was lunchtime. I didn’t want to eat alone. Although I saw people every day, and was constantly navigating crowds on the streets, I felt very lonely in the job.
I made my way to Henry Street. There, in a corner building, lived two patients of my co-workers. This older couple also happened to be my beloved grandparents. They had lived in Chinatown for more than 25 years.
Somehow, it seemed, they had sensed that I would visit that day. They had tea, herbal soup, fried eggs, steam riced and Chinese sausages and vegetables ready and waiting when I arrived.
To this day, it’s still the best work lunch I’ve ever had.
— Kat Lieu
Truck and Tree
I was walking along Henry Street in Brooklyn. A blind man with a white cane was walking toward me. To my right, a truck was backing into a parking spot.
Just as the man with the cane passed me on my left, I heard a bang. I turned and saw a young man poke his head out of the truck to assess the damage to the tree that had just been hit.
The man with the cane stopped and turned his head.
“What was that?” he asked.
I took a couple of steps back.
“A truck was just backing up and hit a tree,” I said. “Don’t worry. Nobody’s hurt.”.
“So it’s O.K.?” he said.
“Yeah, the truck looks fine. I don’t see any damage.”
He cracked a grin.
“Not the truck,” he said. “The tree.”
— Laura Lim
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Illustrations by Agnes Lee
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