There I was in a cab headed to Brooklyn. The Pakistani cab driver asked me where I was from, and I negligently gestured out the window, “here.” “No. that can’t be. you don’t sound anything like us.”

I had been away for a long time.

It’s true. There’d been a lot of influences in the fifty years since I lit out for New England. I’d lived in Massachusetts and Maine long enough as a young man to influence my speech patterns. But not enough to fool professional linguists who chuckled, and told me that my New York could run, but could not hide. So I laughed with the cabbie on the matter of our relative origins. He’d lived NYC for most of the fifty years I had been gone.
By the time he dropped me off, we had discovered a bond. We were both “from” the same neighborhood – Washington Heights- in Manhattan. He lived less than four blocks along Saint Nicholas Avenue from where I grew up on 173rd Street.
The City isn’t only big. It can be small too.

3 Replies to “Small”

  1. This kind of thing happens all too often. Really quite neat and remarkable how close he was to you growing up.

    When my husband and I were in Vegas, we had taken an Uber with a retired NYC police sergeant… his accent was unmistakable. What an interesting ride that was. Boy the stories he could have told, but obviously kept in confidence minus the one he shared about his trainee who lost his life on duty just before Richard, our Uber fellow, retired. So sad. You could tell it really affected him as one would expect. We were so happy to have met Richard and to have heard a bit about his life.

    1. The world is full of NYC expats. We form a special club ( wink, wink, nod). But, my father was fond of saying that “if you can’t make it in New York City, you can’t make it!” Then he eventually left, and I got to tease him mercilessly about how he just couldn’t make it.

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