UWS Encounters: Height Helps and Home Harkens


Ed Koch in 1988. Image via wikimedia.

“No wonder he looked confused!”

My short stature often makes me depend on “the kindness of strangers” when necessities are out of reach in the grocery store. This was the case some time ago when I was in Fairway, and flagged down a tall gentleman to help me retrieve an item on a high shelf. I noticed a fleeting look of confusion cross his face before he complied. I thanked him, then, as he went past, I heard a gasp and a camera shutter click and I suddenly realized why he had looked vaguely familiar. No wonder he looked confused! When I said “Excuse me…” he was no doubt anticipating the usual, “Aren’t you Edward Koch?” but, instead, the retired mayor got, “Could you please reach that box for me?” I still blush when I think about it.

— Carol Cohen

“I awaited the slush tsunami…”

Years ago, when the bus fare was $1.25 and taxis didn’t take credit cards, I stood somewhere on East 79th Street, well past midnight, waiting for the crosstown bus. In a snowstorm. To walk or wait? As the snow piled higher than my ankles, the decision became easy: walk. No telling if the bus would ever come. As soon as I got about halfway between bus stops, I heard the roar of a bus engine and turned to see the lights of the M79 (M17?) charging out of the swirling snow behind me. Of course. With a half-hearted wave I awaited the slush tsunami that would emphatically deny boarding. Shockingly, the bus stopped. As I got on, the driver asked where I was going. “Home.” “Where exactly?” “West End and 73rd.” (This is weird) And the bus ran express directly home. Cool.

 — Chris Jones

Send your UWS Encounters to westsiderag@gmail.com — aim for around 150 words and please include your real name and address. We won’t publish the address. We need it to deliver a WSR mug to you if we post your story!

Read previous UWS Encounters here and here. And here is a fascinating New York Times obituary of Mayor Ed Koch.

COLUMNS | 3 comments | permalink
    1. paulcons says:

      “Send your UWS Encounters to westsiderag.com” is not exactly a proper email address… one would think you’d want something like “encounters@westsiderg.com” to be able to auto direct them…

    2. Sue Llewellyn says:

      Carol Cohen’s Koch encounter reminded me of my own with the former mayor, also at Fairway. Choosing tomatoes, I turned to him and commented that I was surprised he shopped there, since he lived in the Village. “Well”—he announced with considerable emphasis on the next words—“I have a chauffeur!”