‘The Driver Stayed in the Car With the Radio On and the Window Open’

‘You Are Everything’

Dear Diary:

I was waiting for a friend outside a building on East 73rd Street when an S.U.V. pulled up and parked.

The driver stayed in the car with the radio on and the windows open. “You Are Everything” by The Stylistics came on, and I began to sing along (quietly).

As the song got to the chorus — “You are everything, and everything is you” — a guy walked past me. He was singing along too, and we exchanged man-this-is-such-a-great-song nods.

Just then, the driver turned off the radio. The other guy and I shared a confused look. Then he approached the car.

“Bro,” he implored the driver. “Turn that back on!”

And he did.

— Joe Katz

Quite a Ride

Dear Diary:

We were running late to meet friends for dinner at a restaurant in the West 50s.

There were no taxis in sight, and the closest subway station was several blocks away. So we hopped into a pedicab and wove off through the early evening theater-district traffic.

Eleven hair-raising minutes later, we arrived at the restaurant, almost on time.

I tried to pay the driver with a credit card, but his card reader malfunctioned and couldn’t process the transaction. I gave him cash instead.

A short time later, as we finished our pre-dinner cocktails, the hostess approached our table and asked if we had arrived in a pedicab. The driver, she said, was there and wanted to talk to me.

He was waiting when I got to the front door. He said his card reader had started working again and that it had somehow processed my payment.

He was there to give me my cash back.

— Tom Lippman

Lunch Money

Dear Diary:

It was summer 1980, and I was a 19-year-old college student working as a part-time teller for what was then Greater New York Savings Bank at a branch in Flatbush.

I worked around 20 hours a week, earned $3.35 an hour and, as I recall, took home around $45 in a typical week. Because I lived at home, that was good money.

My hours included working on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. One Saturday, I was told another teller was needed at a different branch. To make the assignment more palatable, my manager gave me $5 for lunch and $20 for a taxi.

Never one to miss an opportunity, I went to the deli next door and bought a bagel with cream cheese for $1 and a soda for 50 cents. Then I got on the subway for 60 cents.

Needless to say, after that I always volunteered to travel to other branches when a fill-in was needed. The other tellers just couldn’t understand it.

— Rudyard F. Whyte


Dear Diary:

I was walking my dog along York Avenue near East 70th Street early on a Sunday. There weren’t many people around.

I realized that I had my shirt on inside-out and began to feel uncomfortable. Even though there were few people around, I was sure that everyone was staring at me.

What to do? I started to look for an alleyway where I could change quickly. I didn’t find one; even if I had, I am too timid to have tried changing my shirt in public.

My dog could not have cared less about my dilemma and insisted on continuing to pull me forward. Finally, when we got to around East 73rd Street, I noticed a young couple loading up a car. I decided to approach them.

“I have a very strange request,” I said. “Would you be OK if I got into your car and put my shirt right-side out?”

I added: “And please hold my large dog?”

I do not know what they were thinking, but they offered me the front passenger seat and grabbed the leash.

— Rayna Leiter

Soft Pretzels

Dear Diary:

My father and I were walking toward the Javits Center for a trade show. We were hungry because we hadn’t gotten breakfast, and we decided to get soft pretzels from a street vendor who was set up across from the center.

We paid $2 apiece for two pretzels, and they were the last things we ate that day. We worked straight through without stopping for lunch.

After the show closed and we were walking back to our car, we were hungry again, so we decided to stop at the same cart and buy two more pretzels.

“That will be $3” the vendor said as he served the first one.

My father pointed out that he had us charged $2 each that morning for pretzels that were warm and fresh.

“Now they’re cold and stale and a dollar more?” my father said. “How? Why?”

“You hungry?” the vendor replied.

— Ed Cohen

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee

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