“It was my first visit to the city and I had scheduled an interview”

Dear Diary:

I was standing on the platform at Lexington Avenue and 68th Street with my subway map in hand. It was my first visit to the city and I had scheduled an interview, so I wanted to make sure I was in the right place

I turned to the man next to me.

“Sir,” I said, “do I take the number 6 train here?”

“There is no such train,” he replied.

“But this map shows that train number 6 comes here,” I said.

“I have been commuting for 15 years, and I tell you there is no such train.”

As he was saying this, a 6 train pulled into the station.

“Sir,” I said, “you said there is no number 6 train, but here it is.”

“That,” he said, “is the Lexington local.”

—Anil Pandit

Dear Diary:

I live in North Queens and I never drive in Manhattan if I can help myself. But one Sunday afternoon as I was sitting at home, I remembered that on my way home from work on Friday evening, I had parked in a plaza with Monday street cleaning from 9:30 to 11 a.m. and I had a 10 a.m. meeting in Manhattan on Monday.

I went out to try and find a place that didn’t require me to move the car the next day. After walking around several nearby blocks, I realized that the only spots available would require me to do so. Everything else was complete.

Accepting my fate, I found a possible space in front of my building. It was near a fire hydrant and actually big enough for two cars, but one of them was already parked there in a way that barely left room for mine.

Nevertheless, I stopped and had started to back up when I realized the driver was in the car that was there. I got out of my car and approached him.

“Are you going to stay here until tomorrow morning?” I said. “I want to back up against you so I don’t get in the fire hydrant area.”

“What time do we have to move tomorrow?” He asked

“9:30,” I said, “but I’ll be gone long before.”

“No problem,” he said. “Dark.”

I jumped in my car and backed up to less than 6 inches from his bumper. As I got out of the car, he called me.

He was holding a long, thin bundle in a white bread bag.

“Take this!” he said.

“What is that?” I asked

“One baguette. I have two! That’s cool.”

” It was you who did it ?

“Yes, enjoy it.”

“Wow! Thanks, I will.”

I turned around and walked into my building, trying to decide what to eat with my cool baguette.

—G. Victor Paulson

Dear Diary:

I made the first of my many visits to New York in 1988. I came from Vancouver, British Columbia, a small city in comparison, and I was thrilled to be in the big city.

I stayed at the Excelsior Hotel on the Upper West Side, a well-kept secret among Canadians due to its reasonable prices and prime location near the Museum of Natural History.

On the first day, I went down to the lobby and asked the man at reception if he could call me a taxi.

Call your own cab, he replied.

I don’t know the phone number, I say.

He laughed, pointed the corner away, raised his hand in the air and whistled.

That’s what you call a taxi, huh, he said.

—Lee Saxell

Dear Diary:

I was an aspiring philosopher in graduate school in Minnesota. My girlfriend was an aspiring New Yorker.

When she walked out of a brownstone on the north side of Washington Square Park with a smile indicating that she had entered New York University, I was afraid that if we were to stay together she would have to give up her aspirations, or I would have to give up mine.

To avoid either eventuality, we stuffed 300 envelopes with my letters of inquiry to colleges and community colleges in the New York area, seeking courses for me to teach while I was writing my thesis.

Only one invited me for an interview. My first paycheck in New York didn’t even cover a month’s rent, but it gave me and my future wife hope for success in the city.

—Christopher Michaelson

Dear Diary:

There’s a popular restaurant on the Upper West Side that’s the only place nearby to get barbecued ribs. I went there one evening to take some.

My order came with cornbread. It was good, but the portion was too small, so I ordered another one.

Not wanting to look cheap, I asked the waiter to add it to the check. He did, but in an unexpected way.

When the bill came it said: Iced tea, BBQ ribs, more cornbread, please.

—Don Hauptman

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee

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