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Friday, December 1, 2023
Dec. 1, 2023

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Everybody Has a Story: New York style was cool, kind


Back when our four now adult daughters were in elementary and junior high, we made a much-anticipated, first-time family trip to New York City.

Coming from a small town in Washington, I was a bit nervous about navigating the crowds, subways, taxis and so on, and consequently planned our excursions down to the minutest of details. Adding to my nervousness, I was warned by friends that people on the East Coast could be a bit unfriendly and sometimes less than helpful to hapless tourists.

My general observations took in the demeanor of store clerks as well as people we came into contact with on the streets and in elevators. Compared to the West Coast, where walking into a store you are more often than not greeted with eye contact and ear-to-ear smiles, in New York there was definitely a greater reserve. It was not off-putting, just different.

We — all six of us (Mom and Dad plus middle school twins, a fourth-grader, and a first-grader) — successfully traversed the city and took in the Statue of Liberty, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and even an off-Broadway play. My confidence was building. Apparently the confidence of Angie, our 9-year-old fourth-grader, was building as well.

We were on a crowded subway en route to yet another big city adventure. Angie asked the name of our next subway stop. The next thing I knew, the subway doors opened and she zipped out the door, thinking it was our stop.

By the time I realized what had happened the doors slammed shut and we were leaving her behind. Shocked is too mild a word for the feeling I experienced at that moment. We hurriedly got off at the next stop, reversed our subway course to try to find our 9-year-old, hoping that she would still be there.

We raced to the platform where Angie had gotten off the subway, and there she was, standing and waiting next to a middle-aged man. I knew immediately that he had seen what had happened and he told her to wait there with him.

I thanked him profusely. In true New York style, he said not a word, but nodded and walked away.

Everybody Has a Story welcomes nonfiction contributions, 1,000 words maximum, and relevant photographs. Send to: neighbors@columbian.com or P.O. Box 180, Vancouver WA, 98666. Call “Everybody Has an Editor” Scott Hewitt, 360-735-4525, with questions.

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