Letters to the Neighborhood

20 Apr

Walking to work this morning – and then throughout the day – I found myself composing short letters to people I saw on the street. It turned into a game, then, and I just had to write them all down…

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Dear Man Smoking in Front of Me,

I don’t like your second-hand smoke. When I try to pass you, please don’t speed up. I have to speed up then, which is a challenge after breathing in the remnants of your cigarette. Honestly, I don’t care if you smoke. I think it’s gross, but I won’t even judge you. If you want to destroy your lungs, it’s your prerogative. However, please don’t make it so difficult for me to avoid the deathly remains of your bad habit.

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Dear Woman with the Limping German Shepherd,

Where did you go? I saw you every morning for so many months. Your dog was so old. He limped and dragged his right hind leg. One day you had to help him walk. Every step looked painful, but I got used to seeing you. Now you’ve been absent for a few weeks. I think maybe he died.

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Dear Parents with the Adorable Girl with Bows in Her Hair,

Your daughter is precious. Every day she is so excited to be running up the street. Sometimes I imagine her going to pre-school. She must be 4 or 5. Seeing her in the mornings makes me smile. Thanks.

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Dear Construction Workers on My Block,

You’ve been there for 16 months and I still have absolutely no idea what you do. I’ve never seen you do anything productive, but now you have a port-a-potty and a security guard. You produce an inordinate amount of trash for being so incredibly inefficient. Please get your stupid job done so my block can have sunlight again.

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Dear Girl Who Ended a Four-Year Relationship and Slept with Another Guy for the Summer and is Still in Touch with Him,

I know all that because you were talking way too loudly in Bryant Park today at lunch. Seriously, I know that your ex of four years was not right for you – I get the impression he probably cheated. Then your rebound who you insist you were just having fun with decided he wanted to be the one to sweep you off your feet but you’re not that kind of girl who gets swept away and any girl who does get swept away spends months resenting the guy she’s with and ohmygod your coworker is totally socially inept and awkward and…maybe she’s retarded?!

Please be wary of your audience. Just because you’re in a crowded park in a crowded city doesn’t mean you are automatically invisible or inaudible. Quite the contrary.

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Dear Pregnant Teen on the Subway Talking to Her Boyfriend,

I wasn’t trying to stare. You were telling a story about some girl who approached you and asked how far along you were; I just wanted to know the answer, too. You’re six months along. I hope it’s a healthy baby and I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.

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Love, Sara

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