‘I Saw a Man Standing on One of the Paths in a Densely Forested Area’

Dear Diary:

On my usual evening walk through Riverside Park, I saw a man standing on one of the paths in a densely wooded area. He was calling a name over and over and scanning the branches above.

“Are you looking for a bird?” I said as I passed.

“Yes,” he said. “A parrot. It’s kind of gray with a reddish tail.”

Casting my eyes upward, and dourly assessing the man’s chances of ever finding the bird in all the trees, I smiled gamely.

“Wow,” I said. “That must be hard. Good luck finding your bird.”

“Yeah, I know,” he said, his eyes brightening. “It’s not mine. But the owner is offering a $1,000 reward.”

— Barak Zimmerman

Dear Diary:

When my daughter Elizabeth was 18, I decided to take her to New York for a week to explore and savor the city.

Somewhere in Midtown, we came upon a United Airlines counter with a lone uniformed agent. It seemed like a good opportunity to confirm our flight home to California, so we approached the counter.

“Don’t whine,” the agent barked at us when we were about 10 feet away. It was such a surprise that I burst out laughing.

“What was that about?” I asked.

He said he just thought that I looked like a whiner.

About two days later, we were somewhere around Second Avenue and Thirteenth Street as my daughter searched for a used pair of Doc Martens.

I saw what looked like a classic New York delicatessen. It was lunch time, so we went in and were seated by a waitress who I estimated to be in her 70s. She may have been the owner.

After looking over the menu, I decided to order a hot pastrami sandwich. What could be better in a place like this?

The waitress took my order, and then paused before turning.

“You want it hot,” she said. “But you’ll get it warm, and you’ll like it!”

She was right. I did.

— Michael Snyder

Dear Diary:

My girlfriend and I were on a D train going from Brooklyn into Manhattan. Next to us in the crowded car was a young man who was standing near the window and looking out.

As we got close to the Manhattan Bridge, a man with a small boy approached the young man and asked whether he could move aside a little so that his son could also look out the window.

“He lives for this,” the father said with a smile.

“Yeah,” the young man said while making space. “Me too.”

He and the boy stood there side by side as we crossed the bridge and watched Manhattan come closer into view.

— Moritz Schäfer

Dear Diary:

To the woman I fell onto on the 3 train that morning: I’m sorry, and I feel awful for the way things turned out.

You see, when I got on the train, I was in that awkward position of not being near a pole I could hold on to. The only thing I could do was press my palm to the subway ceiling and pray that I wouldn’t lose my footing.

In the end, as you know, I did lose it. I could tell by the look you gave me as you shook your head that you were very upset.

I didn’t say I was sorry at the time because I was in a particularly bad mood. I was tired, and I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before. You had a right to be annoyed with me. Nobody wants a tall 16-year-old with a heavy backpack to tumble onto them on their way to work.

If you cannot accept my apology, I completely understand. If I had the opportunity to take that ride again, I would hold onto the ceiling with a tighter grip, and, if I lost my balance again, apologize in person.

I wish you a lifetime of peaceful commutes on the No. 3. I hope something like that never happens to you again.

Sincerely, the tall boy who fell onto you that morning

— John Bloch

Dear Diary:

I occasionally pet sit for people who are fortunate enough to be able to get out of the city in the summer.

Once, when I was walking a dog that belonged to one of my older clients, two young girls came up to me.

“Can we pat your doggy?” one of them said.

“Sure,” I said, and then turned to the woman they were with.

“Sorry,” I said. “He smells a bit. He’s not my dog.”

“That’s OK,” she said. “They’re not my kids.”

— Linda Herskovic

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee

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