If you read my last post, about the “sidewalk hit-and-run,” I need to counter that experience with a couple more, showing that in New York you never know who you'll meet and what will happen.
After a big snowfall, I alighted from the bus in front of a three-foot crusted snow bank. Along the edge of the snow hill was a river of melted ice. Wearing pricey "waterproof" boots, my feet were already sopping. I hesitated, trying to decide which path to negotiate. A tap on my shoulder made me turn to see a burly 50-ish man who had emerged from the bus behind me. "Shall I lift you from the back?" he asked, and to my nod, gracefully bore me over the snow bank. I thanked him, he winked, then we both disappeared into the crowd and anonymity on Madison Avenue.
Then there was the time that I was staring at a Degas in the Met when a woman near me wearing a shapeless housedress-y garment looked down at me. I thought she was going to ask about the bulky knee brace I have been wearing since I tore ligaments in a lurching New Jersey Transit train But no. "You're wearing the wrong shoes," she said. I looked down at my comfortable red flats. "What's wrong with them?" I asked. They're the wrong color — everything else is dark red." "Everything else" was the purple Guatemalan poncho I was wearing. She looked appraisingly: "You could have worn black shoes."
"Don't they match my hair?" I asked with an amused smile, referring to the red highlights in my gray hair. "That's darker too," she pronounced. "But they do match your lipstick." My color lesson over, I stepped out onto busy Fifth Avenue where I was free from the fashion police.
Monday, April 1, 2013
When I told my daughter Dorri about the following experience, she said, "Mom, that's a perfect story for The New York Times column 'Metropolitan Diary.'" So I sent it in, and it was published today. Here's the story:
Walking along the crowded lunch-hour sidewalk on Madison Avenue in January, I felt something unexpected on the top of my right foot. I looked down at a "wheelie" rolling off my shoe, being pulled along briskly by a well-dressed woman, eyes straight ahead, oblivious of where her suitcase had just been.
Like hit-and-run drivers who don't notice the bump of the person they ran over, she hadn't noticed the interference in her bag's progress.
She rushed along. I walked at a slower pace, limping a little, but a block later we were next to each other at the traffic light. I turned and said pleasantly, "You might want to keep closer track of your suitcase. It ran over my foot."
I expected, as she saw my gray hair and the evidence that I had about 30 years on her, "Oh, I'm so sorry, were you hurt?" Silly me.
What I got was this stern reproof: "You need to watch where you're walking!" Barely taking a breath, she asked, "Were you behind me or in front of me?" "Behind." (I had been next to her until she elbowed her way in front.) "Well," she said, clinching her case, "You need to be more careful. I don't have eyes in the back of my head!"
"You're very good at not taking responsibility," I said, and was amused when, taking this as a compliment, she said, "Thank you." And the light changed.
When the young man next to us raised an eyebrow in her direction, then rolled his eyes and grinned at me, I enjoyed sharing this moment with a stranger and was reminded why I love New York.