Traffic Jam Bouquets
A friend and I were driving out of the city. We were in a long line of cars waiting to enter the Lincoln Tunnel. There were a lot of cars, so we were stopping and waiting frequently.
We came up to a man who was selling bouquets of flowers out of a small cart. As we inched past him, he gave each of us one.
“Young ladies,” he said, “these flowers were sent to you by the two young gents a few cars ahead.”
Just then the line started to move. We looked ahead of us, but never saw who sent the flowers.
— Diane Delaney
My husband and I were on the A train one night, feeling exhausted and ready to pounce on any empty seat. Unfortunately, most of the available ones were either filthy or covered with water.
I sat down next to one of the waterlogged ones, and my husband, acting nonchalant, stood nearby.
A woman walked over, pulled a tissue out of her pocketbook, wiped off the water and gestured for my husband to sit — all without ever saying a word.
— Shaheen Rushd
I was pacing First Avenue on a summer night. The object of my affection should have been finished with her shift at Sloan Kettering 20 minutes earlier. I hadn’t seen her in two weeks, and my impatience was getting the better of me.
An older woman was pushing a small grocery cart up the sidewalk. Even in the midst of my angst, I noticed her staring at me with a grin that could best be described as cherubic.
We made eye contact briefly, and I remember thinking, “This is all I need.”
The hospital doors had opened fruitlessly a few more times when I felt a hand on my arm.
Startled, I jerked my head around to find the woman with the cart smiling up at me.
“You’re waiting for your sweetie,” she whispered.
“Yeah,” I said.
Just then, the doors opened again and there was my sweetie. She jumped into my arms. I’d never been so happy in my whole life.
The woman was forgotten, but only briefly. I’d like her to know we’ve been married for 10 years.
— Ty Heck
It was winter in Manhattan. I walked from my day job at a law firm to the stage door of a Broadway theater, tap shoes in hand, to join the line of hundreds of women attending an open call for “42nd Street.”
I had tried out five years before but had been eliminated in the first few minutes because I wasn’t precise enough in my tap sounds. I’d been practicing ever since.
I made it through the first lineup and the execution of two critical tap steps that were simple but still an excellent measure of a tapper’s abilities. I ran out to find a phone booth to call the law firm to say I wouldn’t be back that day.
Later, at dusk, I stepped out into a gentle snow, shaking my head and laughing to myself.
After singing and reading, I had made it to the last five women, only to find out that there had been a misprint in the advertised call. Only women 5-foot-7 or taller would be considered. I am 5-foot-4. The casting director said the costumes were valued at $500,000. Talent took second place.
I tasted the snow on my tongue, and my smile got even bigger. I swung my tap shoes as I headed to the subway. I would never forget standing at the apex of the empty stage, chest high, arms extended, and walking toward the rows of empty seats in perfect time with the pianist playing just for me.
— Alexana Ryer
After getting off the 7 train at Grand Central on my way to work, I made a beeline to pick up a $2 breakfast sandwich. Like most New Yorkers on an early Tuesday morning, I was focused on getting from Point A to Point B with as little human contact as possible.
I heard a man call out to me as I entered the cafe. I turned around to find a sanitation worker, one of “New York’s Strongest,” trying to catch my attention.
I thought he merely wanted me to hold the door for him, but he surprised me with a question.
“Excuse me, sir,” he said. “But what scent are you wearing?”
Confused and a bit hesitant, I told him Tom Ford, but that it had a French name I couldn’t pronounce.
He proceeded to confirm the name for me, in French, and then to educate me on Tom Ford’s trailblazing position in the fragrance world, as well as how trends spread through the industry, from the acceleration of rose scents to the impact of Bleu de Chanel.
As I listened, I found it somehow ironic and yet utterly unsurprising that a sanitation worker was explaining all of this to me.
— Amadeo Plaza
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Illustrations by Agnes Lee
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