I was dining with a friend at a French restaurant on the Upper East Side in the early 1990s.
As we sat at a table toward the front near the bar, the pianist André Watts, dressed casually but elegantly, came in and approached the hostess, who was talking with another customer.
I was a longtime admirer and recognized him immediately. While he waited, he turned his gaze in our direction.
I smiled and mimed playing a piano keyboard.
He responded by raising his eyebrows, jutting his chin in my direction and copying my pantomime, as if to ask whether I, too, was a pianist.
I shook my head and mimed playing classical guitar. He nodded in approval.
Then, as the hostess escorted him to his table, he waved in our direction and our brief encounter was over.
— Mark Shechtman
I was 18 in 1966. It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and I was making my first trip to New York City to visit a friend who was studying at N.Y.U. She had told me to take a cab to her dorm from La Guardia Airport.
The cabdriver and I made the usual small talk, and he asked whether my friend and I had plans for Thanksgiving dinner.
I told him I didn’t know but was sure she had planned something. He said immediately that if she hadn’t, he and his wife would be glad to host us.
We had reached Washington Square by that point, but he wouldn’t let me leave without taking his phone number.
As it turned out, my friend and I spent a lovely Thanksgiving at the Long Island home of her relatives. But I have never forgotten Lou Jacoby and the warm welcome to New York he gave me.
— Linda Zaworski
It was hot out, and I had to get from 59th Street and Fifth Avenue down to 12th Street for a doctor’s appointment.
My original plan was to take a leisurely walk, but it was just too hot, so I boarded an air-conditioned M3 bus instead.
As we approached 42nd Street, the driver announced that he was running ahead of schedule and would stop in front of the main public library to get back on time.
A few minutes later, some teenagers began yelling from the back.
“When will we get moving?” they shouted.
When the driver didn’t answer, the teens approached him and rudely asked the same question again.
“In 20 minutes,” he said.
They got off the bus angrily, saying they would catch the next one.
As soon as they were gone, he started up the engine. We all started cheering.
— Carol Dean Silverman
For several years, I had been spending a lot of time shopping at the supermarket near my apartment building in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens.
Everyone who worked there spoke Spanish, and they were all so nice. I would always chat with the cashiers, sometimes twice a day.
There was one cashier, though, who was not interested in my attempts at friendly chitchat. Anytime I would try to engage her in conversation, she would just look at me with a rather confused expression on her face and conduct our transaction quickly — and in English.
I was determined to win her over. So one day I said, “hello” but in French by accident. It turned out she was Algerian and didn’t speak Spanish.
She looked at me, and then offered an explanation for not responding to me on previous occasions.
“I just thought you were crazy,” she replied in French.
— Jose Arenado
Looking for a King
My husband and I were at a mattress store on Lexington Avenue, and I was at the register completing our purchase.
A woman who appeared to be in her late 60s walked in and said she was in a hurry.
The salesman we had been dealing with was the only employee in the store. He asked what size mattress she was looking for so he could direct her while he finished up with us.
“I’m looking for a king, but I don’t need anything fancy,” she said. “I’m not going to live long.”
Feeling badly for her, I told the salesman to help her first and then turned and encouraged her to get the best mattress in the store.
“Oh no,” she said, looking at me apologetically. “I’m not dying now.”
My husband and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows, then turned back to the salesman and let her wait her turn.
— Susan Kravet
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Illustrations by Agnes Lee