By Walker Jones (Grateful Upper West Side resident for 33 years)
I like to be on the lookout for Upper West Side Miracle Moments. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of having the eyes to see and the ears to hear.
What’s a Miracle Moment? Well, I wouldn’t want to get too literal in nailing it down; let’s just say that when one happens, you know it’s happened and it changes you or uplifts you. Somehow, it leaves your soul feeling nourished.
This past Saturday, August 13th, turned out to be a lucky-13 day for a woman named Candy C., who had biked to the 79th Street Boat Basin pier around the time of sunset. At first, things did not seem so lucky, however, when her bike tipped over and her backpack fell right into the Hudson River. It was a total “uh oh!” moment, for sure. Candy was by herself and watched helplessly as her backpack floated there in the water. “It’s got my housekeys!” she exclaimed. “And my airpod earphones!”
Those of us who happened to be there also felt helpless. A couple of weeks earlier, I’d seen people swimming in the Hudson for a triathlon, but I just didn’t feel up to jumping into the river to rescue the backpack. Apparently, no one else did either. But we tried to think of things that could help. Candy called 911, but was told if there wasn’t a life-threatening emergency, she’d have to call 311. Even after trying 311, it was still challenging. She couldn’t seem to connect with anyone that could help.
Then, out of the blue, a woman revealed herself to be an off-duty police officer. She made a call and found the phone number of the New York Harbormaster and gave it to Candy. The Harbormaster was reached, but said it might take quite a while for the nearest boat to get there from Battery Park. Meanwhile, the backpack was drifting further and further away — in the direction of the George Washington Bridge.
After a while, it seemed like there might be no solution in sight. Sadly thinking there was nothing more I could do to help, I began to walk away with the friend who was with me.
When we got to the esplanade, we suddenly saw a small boat headed in the direction of the backpack. Maybe the boat was sent from the harbormaster? But no, the boat passed right by the backpack. They didn’t even see it. That’s when a bunch of us — random New Yorkers who did not know each other at all — sprang into action. We made our way as close as possible to where the boat was and YELLED for them to turn around. After a while, they figured out what we were trying to say — and the little speedboat with its two occupants did turn about. They plucked the backpack out of the water, then headed to the pier where Candy and others were happily jumping up and down.
When the little boat got to the pier, the owner felt he could only come but so close, so he decided to throw the backpack to those of us who had returned to help Candy. He threw it — and missed! The backpack went right back into the water. But, this time, it was very close to the pier. At that point, a lovely young lady — another random New Yorker — jumped down to the lower level of the pier. She was able to reach for the backpack — and grab it!
We all cheered! Mission Accomplished!
Candy had her backpack again! Her housekeys were still in the bag — and so were her airpod earphones, looking like they just might have survived. In fact, another of the bystanders just HAPPENED to be an Apple Engineer who told Candy how to take care of the airpods in order to achieve a full recovery.
Candy’s success was ALL our successes! The saved backpack brought on a feeling of lightness and gratitude that we ALL shared!
A real New York City Miracle Moment. Total strangers came together to support someone who needed help. As a result, we ALL ended up feeling enriched by the experience, with gratitude in our hearts and smiles on our faces!
What are YOUR New York City Miracle Moments?
Please share. These days, we could use more stories like this!