8.4 Million New York Stories: Only One Counts

There are over 8.4 million people living in New York City and everyone of them has a story.  The one that counts is the one that touches us the most in the moment. Usually it’s our own story. New Yorkers like most big city residents are in a hurry and absorbed in their own world.  They navigate the crowded streets with one hand ready to push, the other clutching their cell phone. The other day I  arrive off an air-conditioned train at Grand Central at rush hour and brace myself for the whoosh of  heat.  I only had to walk two blocks so I didn’t mind the sticky air. Tourists in short shorts gawk and take selfies. A lone customer stands in refrigerated cool, deciding. Deciding on what, I can only imagine. What flavor designer cupcake (s) would have less calories. Whether to buy extras for a sick friend, lover, mother? Who knows? She’s not a skinny customer but I don’t think she has self-esteem issues or is bulimic.  Will she ship two dozen Boston cream Pie cupcakes to cousin getting a divorce in Atlanta or  buy three dozen for her daughter’s 5th birthday party? We can speculate but we can never really know anything about anyone.

Steps away a sign of a homeless sits on the sidewalk unattended. There is no money in the cup. The drawing of the cat gets my attention.  It’s well done, as is the hand lettering on the cardboard. It takes skill to space out words neatly. The woman (my assumption) is creative, loves cats and is literate. Did she lose her job, home and her cat? There’s a blue bag to the side and I wonder where she is. A public restroom? Hiding around the corner too embarrassed to show herself? It’s melting hot to sit and beg on the sidewalk all day. I can’t imagine losing everything.  Need white socks and/or t-shirt if possible.  What size I wonder but I keep walking. The tall, glass office towers spits out workers with jobs. Jobs that allow decisions like what flavor cupcake to buy. I keep moving, the nape of my neck is hot with sweat, my underarms damp. Two blocks is all it took. How does someone stand outside all day begging or selling hot dogs, deliver packages, fix roads, open doors is beyond me. My hot brain short circuits at the thought. I make a mental note not to complain about the heat once I arrive at my destination: a blogger event on storytelling.  We tell stories, one at a time in public, drink chilled white wine and I mention nothing about what I saw.  We’re all storytellers and there are so many stories. This is only one, my last one in August. And there are 22 days left of summer.  I can’t predict how long this heat wave will last, but I know there will be more New York and other stories.


NYC stories

4 thoughts on “8.4 Million New York Stories: Only One Counts”

  1. Stream of thought writing isn’t always easy to do but you did it and put us right in the middle of it which is what I enjoy………there may be 8.4 million New Yorkers but you are “one in a million” Layla!

    Happy Monday………………

  2. I, like you, see so many stories every day. Some are heartbreaking and some are questionable. One early morning I was in Manhattan for a conference and when I passed what I assumed was a homeless shelter I saw a woman sitting outside with her belongings, including her cat and a carrier. I said a prayer for her and went on my way. Many, many hours later I went down that same street again by happenstance and there she was. I walked by, but something made me stop and turn around. I asked her if she had food for her cat and she told me “I have some”. I had $11 in my pocket and I gave it to her. I prayed for her again as I left, and I also prayed for myself. I prayed for the good fortune to always have a home to keep my cats safe.

    1. So many sad stories and of humanity like yours. There were times in my hardscrabble youth when my cats ate before me.

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