“…a sweet smile and a ‘thanks.’”
Every now and then I think of the old H&H Bagel shop across the street from Zabar’s (RIP). Fondest memory? One time, inside the shop on their line, this woman in front of me asks me to hold her place while she nips over to get something from the cold storage. I instantly recognized her and said “sure.” She comes back and gives me a sweet smile and a “thanks.” I wanted to engage in a conversation, but most “famous people” whom I have spoken to bemoan having to engage in random ones when recognized, so I let her get her stuff and on the way out, she tosses me another smile! Glenn Close.
— Paul Constantine
“I could hear him laughing hysterically.”
I was walking on Broadway near Zabar’s where I had just bought a bagel. After I took a bite I looked up and saw Jackie Mason walking in the opposite direction. (If you know Jackie’s routine, you know he always answers a question with a question.)
As we made eye contact he looked at me, apparently to make small talk, and asked “So, how’s the bagel taste?” Without acknowledging outright that I knew who he was, I responded with my best Jackie Mason impersonation: “How should it taste?” and kept walking. I could hear him laughing hysterically.
— Kenny Hawco
People who ride the UWS buses studiously avoid engaging with the disabled, the homeless and the disoriented who often fill the front seats. So those who got on the #7 on Amsterdam last Sunday paid scant attention to the neatly dressed old woman who was chanting something softly but insistently. She had the unfocused gaze of the totally blind, and a red-tipped white cane beneath her arm. I leaned closer to hear. “Would someone please make a call for me?” I pulled out my phone and asked whom to call. “My pastor,” she said, “I’m going to be very late for the service. Tell him that Sister Lois’ cell phone stopped working, but don’t worry, she’ll always be there.” Pastor Jack’s voicemail greeting was full of love and blessings, and I left the message. Sister Lois also wished me blessings when I got off at my stop. She was going to 125th, then catching another bus to the Bronx, a long trip from her home in Chelsea. And this old atheist went home, grateful to be doubly blessed.
— Barbara Bonn
Send your UWS Encounters to email@example.com — please include your full name and address. We won’t print your address; we need it to deliver a WSR mug to you if we post your story. Try to keep them to 150 words or less. Illustrations of encounters are also welcome. (And you don’t need to spot a celebrity.) ‘Tis the season for tourists!