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‘As the Taxi I Was in Neared the Restaurant, Rain Began to Fall’

Dear Diary:

I was meeting my children for dinner in Manhattan.

As the taxi I was in neared the restaurant, rain began to fall. I had forgotten to bring an umbrella and was worried about getting soaked.

Opening the taxi door gingerly, I began to step out.

Just then, a young man riding past on a skateboard produced an umbrella, led me to the restaurant’s entrance without saying a word and then continued on his way.

— Holly Schwartztol


Dear Diary:

My father was buried in Queens under a cloudless September sky. The whole family gathered to celebrate his life.

A bon vivant and World War II veteran, he worked for the Sanitation Department for 25 years and was always quick to arrive at the scene of New York City catastrophes.

The steady din of traffic on the day he was buried made it impossible to hear the service at the cemetery, but we stayed until the end. When it was over, a 45-car caravan headed for the B.Q.E. and a family dinner in Coney Island.

We hadn’t gone far when traffic came to a dead stop. After a half-hour of waiting, members of our group got out of their cars to try to find out what the holdup was.

My nephew did some reconnaissance and reported back: A garbage truck had overturned and was wheels up on the road, leaving a pileup of cars in its wake. Had the service ended a few minutes earlier, we realized, some of us would surely have been caught in the crash.

We started laughing and hugging. It might have seemed strange to others who were stuck there, but one total stranger who was on his way to a birthday party started passing out cupcakes that he realized would not reach their destination on time.

It was my father’s kind of day.

— JoAnna DeCamp


Dear Diary:

I was on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn for this year’s New York City Marathon, a crowd of excited Park Slopers surrounding me.

People were whooping loudly and blowing noisemakers, and children were stretching out their arms in hopes of high-fiving passing runners.

I was waiting patiently for my friend to come past, holding a simple sign that said, “Go, Janice!” I knew she could use an extra boost from a familiar face in the crowd. I was amused to hear some of the other runners shout, “Go Janice!” in solidarity when they saw the sign.

It wasn’t easy to flip between the marathon app, my camera app and holding the cardboard sign, all while keeping an eye on the runners. I did not want to miss Janice, but I also did not want to miss getting a photo with her.

Suddenly, two female runners sprinted up to me.

“Hi,” one of them said. “Can I take a picture with you? My name is Janice.”

— Melissa Morgenlander


Dear Diary:

In 1985, the man who is now my husband and I were living in D.C. when I was offered a job in New York. He decided to stay behind.

On the day of our anniversary, I left my office early to catch a 5 o’clock flight. Before going to the airport, I wanted to do some shopping, so I took a cab to Tiffany with two items in mind, including a set of cuff links and studs for a formal shirt.

Arriving at the store, I went to the second floor and found the perfect cuff links. I told the saleswoman that I had another item to buy and would be right back.

I went to where the stationery was sold and found what I wanted. As the clerk was wrapping my item, the woman who had sold me the cuff links appeared with my purchase beautifully wrapped inside a Tiffany shopping bag.

I thanked her and said that I would have come back to get the package.

She looked at me and smiled.

“Sir,” she said, “this is Tiffany.”

— Paul Pasquarella


Dear Diary:

Peter Luger’s beckoned. It was a special night for my wife and me, so we arrived early to soak up the atmosphere and do some people watching. We stood at the bar, and I ordered a Beefeater martini, straight up with a twist of lemon.

The bartender nodded, returned promptly, iced the glass, shook the shaker and poured a perfect drink.

As I sipped my cocktail, I was fascinated by his interactions with customers and other members of the staff. He was clearly a consummate professional.

He moved effortlessly, offering a smile, advice or a joke. And even as the crowd at the bar grew, he remained in absolute control.