A Good Deed in NYC
Since 1976, the “Metropolitan Diary” column has been a place for New Yorkers to share their perhaps unusual, but important, moments with the New York Times and its readers. Here are 4 letters submitted to, and published in, the Times recently.
Delivery for Edward Albee by Joseph Distler June 26, 2017
I owned one of the first restaurants in TriBeCa in the 1970s; it was called Riverrun Café and was on Franklin Street. One of our regular customers was the playwright Edward Albee.
Once a week, he would order our potpies to be delivered to his loft.
My bartender, Dan Llongo, was a tremendous Albee fan. But we had a policy of not getting personal with any of the famous people who came in.
Once, Dan asked whether he could say something to Mr. Albee the next time he called. We agreed that he could.
“Mr. Albee,” he said when the call came, “I just love your plays.”
“Thank you, sir,” the playwright said. “I just love your potpies!”
Crossing Houston Street by Lucy Lehman June 21, 2017
I was recently at a busy intersection on Houston Street near Chinatown, waiting to cross the street. An older woman with a cane in one hand and a bulky shopping bag in the other started to explain something to me at length in Chinese.
I don’t know the language, so I had no idea what she was telling me, but I pretended to listen, and I nodded as she continued. Then the light changed to green, and suddenly I understood.
I held out my arm, which she grasped after shifting her shopping bag to the hand with the cane. We proceeded slowly across the street. When we got to the other side, she turned to me and said a few words. This time I understood perfectly: She was thanking me.
She slowly walked south toward Chinatown with the help of her cane, and I continued on my way to the subway. I had just had a lesson in the universal language of city dwellers.
Welcome to New York, Parking Edition by Bette Johnson June 18, 2017
In 1963, after my sophomore year at Tufts, a college friend and I spent the summer working in New York City. We sublet a studio on First Avenue between 73rd and 74th Streets.
We drove down from Massachusetts in my two-year-old Chevy Nova convertible. It was gray with a white top and a red interior. Then, as now, parking regulations required that cars be moved to the alternate side of the street on particular days to allow for street cleaning.
One day I was in my car looking for a spot. I found one and was trying to parallel park, but I was having a hard time and tying up traffic.
An exasperated driver got out of a truck and came over to me.
“Lady,” he said, “let me show you how to do it.”
I let him get in, and he quickly parked my car. I thanked him. He got back into his truck and drove off.
Tears on the Train by Charlotte Fainblatt June 27, 2017
I was on an uptown No. 6 train. A man who appeared to be in his 20s was on his cellphone making arrangements for his Mother, who had either been hurt or died unexpectedly. I couldn’t quite hear the facts.
I heard him talking about going to a school to inform his younger siblings about the situation. He was calm and polite in his conversation, yet after ending the call, he started to weep quietly.
I wanted to reach out to him, perhaps to give him money to take a taxi home with the youngsters he was on his way to pick up. I hesitated, not wanting to spoil his dignity or intrude on his grief.
As the tears rolled down his cheeks, I turned to a young man next to me and told him how I felt. He got off at the next stop. As he got off the train, he gently handed the man a tissue.
Good Deeds, Part 2, containing four more letters, next time.