‘Going down the plane stairs into the terminal, I see a small cafe’

Dear Diary:

I’m in town for a high school reunion, and I’m looking for a shoe repair shop. A doorman on West 57th Street directed me to a place “get off the subway.”

Going down the plane stairs into the terminal, I see a tiny cafe.

“Do you know where the shoe repair guy is?” I asked the man behind the counter.

He was smiling.

“I’m here!” he say.

I held up my shoes, the laces dangling.

He looked around and made a gesture indicating that he was alone in the store.

“Oh, come on,” I said. “I’ll work behind the counter for you if you’re going to fix my shoes.”

I was just joking, but he nodded, took off his apron, held it out to me, and waved me behind the counter.

I put on my apron as he explained the operation: This is the register. Coffee and bagels are $1.75. Here is a glass of milk and coffee.

Then he walked out the door and disappeared.

I was so surprised that I could only stand and look around. There is a grill, a sign advertising special breakfast with scrambled eggs, a stall selling sweets and soft drinks.

A customer walks in.

“Please don’t let her want specials,” I begged silently.

She said: “I was craving a Peppermint Patty. “Do you have those?”

I looked at the candy counter and I was relieved to see none. I wouldn’t have to guess what to charge for it. Crisis prevention.

A few minutes later the man came back with my repaired shoes. I returned the apron, paid him the $4 he asked for, and joked that this was my new job.

Janet Poutre

Dear Diary:

I used to walk alone in Chelsea in the late 1980s. As I approached two construction workers on the sidewalk, I braced myself for the possibility that they would start making provocative comments.

As soon as I got to their side, someone called out in a loud and cheerful voice.

“Those are the cutest socks!” he say.

It made my day.

– Karen Lee Schmidt

Dear Diary:

A convenience store at a gas station, Staten Island. Summer. Present.

TOM, a man in his 50s, approached the counter, where ATTENDANT, a man in his 30s, was behind the counter, staring at his mobile phone. TOM took out his wallet.

Thirty dollars, unleaded.


It says “lead free”, but I guess, yes… often.

ATTENDANT stared at TOM, who put him in his twenties. ATTENDANT rings the discount.

You know, there used to be regular and unleaded. Now, when you say regular, you mean unleaded. Regularly lead-free. As opposed to plus or premium. Even though it was marked “lead-free” on the pump… Frequently, in the past, I assumed, was leaded, even when it didn’t say so.


You’re too young to remember that.

TOM started towards the door.


TOM in turn. ATTENDANT gives a 10 dollar bill. TOM takes it.


(The light fades out.)

– Tom Diriwachter

Dear Diary:

I was at the Museum of Modern Art. After reading the curator’s introduction on the wall to the wooden bed that artist Robert Gober had built himself, I went back to take a look.

It looks like any ordinary single bed I’ve ever slept in. Leaning against one of its legs are a pair of white, knee-high boots and a small, fashionable backpack.

Wait a minute!

Under the bed sheet and purple blanket is a woman looking back at me. I made an unnecessary comment. She smiled politely, then closed her eyes and fell asleep.

I immediately went back to the blank on the wall to find out if I had missed anything about the performance art.

My answer came from the mouth of a security guard, who sped out from an adjoining gallery and ordered the woman out of bed.

She sat down on the edge of the bed, put on her boots, stood up, put on her backpack, and walked over to the white wooden platform in support of Jeff Koons’ “Pink Panther.” She walked up there and retrieved the smartphone she was using to record herself. Then she walked away, slow and stylish.

After that, I returned to the Gober’s art bed and chatted briefly with a guard standing near it. I told her I had seen what happened before and asked if she had remodeled the bed.

A curator was called in to do just that, she said.

– Bob Siegel

Dear Diary:

When the weather finally warms up, I don my spring version of the uniform: a black t-shirt, black jeans, beige sneakers, and tortoiseshell glasses. My hair is tucked behind my ears and a canvas tote bag is slung over my shoulder.

I was on my way to buy Thai food with a friend when I looked across Willoughby Street towards Flatbush Avenue and saw him: loose black jeans, black t-shirt, beige sneakers, tortoiseshell glasses, hair tied up behind the ears and an overflowing canvas jacket.

He looks like he’s about to go somewhere important, maybe the airport.

He pointed at me.

I pointed back.

We both burst out laughing and went our separate ways.

– Keighly Baron

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Illustration by Agnes Lee

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