Archive for the ‘Surprises’ Category

Service of When Little Things for Some are Big to Me

Thursday, September 21st, 2023

I’ve written a few times about how little things mean a lot. This post is an updated version.

I was so happy when a few sprigs I cut from an overgrown geranium took root. Over the years, I’ve found this plant to be persnickety and not easy for me to propagate. I’m always tickled when one of the shoots takes hold.

Friends know how much I love to receive cards—e- or paper–and I am grateful for each one. This year I recently received a Freshcut orchid and a rooster who plays polka on an accordion in addition to a fabulous selection of others.

My heart sank when a clock I’m fond of refused to work in spite of countless batteries I’d install. I brought it to Jennings on First Avenue in my old neighborhood and after a new motor, it’s good as new. So happy to see it back in its place above my kitchen door.

Friends who have a weekend home in Connecticut have brought me fresh corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers from a local farm every Sunday for weeks. What a treat!

When I learned that a series I’m attached to—The Lincoln Lawyer on Netflix—will have a third season, I was elated, even though I probably won’t see anything until 2025 due to the writer and actor’s strike.

My bathtub drain was clogged. It took the handyman/porter a few minutes to remedy what I feared would make a major mess. It didn’t. Whooo hooo!

What things that may be little to some are big–and meaningful–to you?

Freshcut orchids

Service of Little Things Mean A Lot III

Monday, July 25th, 2022

Farmer’s market summer flowers

The nicest thing about this post is how quickly I whipped together this preliminary list. So many little things bring smiles. The first two columns of this title took place early in the pandemic and covered how friends helped others.

A gift from a friend

Here’s today’s list in no special order as all are equally meaningful:


How are you? Image by ijmaki from Pixabay 

Red velvet cake. Image by MartinL21 from Pixabay
  • I ordered a slice of velvet cake with meringue icing at Amy’s Bread, didn’t finish it at lunch and enjoyed a few bites of the leftover the next two days. The cake was the best of a memorable taste sensation, one I’ve not enjoyed in 10 dogs ages. Sweet!
  • I had a food delivery the other day, something I’d only done once before in three years because I pick up takeout. The doorman, in announcing the delivery on the intercom, asked if it was legit. He said “You don’t often order food deliveries.” You’re thinking: “Big deal.” It is: There are 510 apartments here! I thanked him later telling him I felt his attention to my habits made me feel as though I lived in a building on Fifth Avenue. His smile made me as happy as his oversight.
  • I walk on a cloud if a bus driver sees me running and waits.
  • When out of town friends let me know they’re coming to town its a treat to see them.
  • “How are you?” texts or emails from former Baruch mentees and great nieces are heart-warming.
  • When Friday evening comes and I watch “A Place to Call Home,” an Australian soap, on WLIW at 8 PM, it’s fun. Same with Grantchester on PBS on Sunday at 9 PM.
  • A text from friends from a hospital recovery room to let me know they are OK or an email that a medical checkup went well causes joy.
  • Something that makes me laugh so hard I cry reminds me of times my mother, my husband and I could hardly breath. It still happens with a few friends, when reading a great line in a book, seeing a ridiculous comment on Facebook or when my funny bone reacts to a segment in a movie or TV series.
  • I love receiving a stunning greeting card out of the blue. I enjoy the images for weeks. I display them on a chest in my living room. Photo below.
  • “Whooo hooo” I holler, even after these many years, when I get an editorial placement for a client.
  • When yet another person pays a compliment to me for my Kusama tote bag–last year’s birthday gift from a friend– it’s a hoot. I’ve written previously about this conversation starter. It happened again just last week.
  • A friend from school reached out after decades and decades–a nice surprise.
  • Summer flowers from the farmer’s market are fabulous. Photo top center.
  • A friend found an out-of-print book, unavailable in my public e-book library, with exorbitant price tags on the secondhand market. She gave it to me when we had lunch at Amy’s Bread where I devoured that divine velvet cake. Photo top right.

What little things have made you happy lately?

Surprise card featuring a favorite flower

Service of What Are You Doing Here? Fun Encounters Most of the Time

Monday, January 17th, 2022


Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay

It’s sometimes a treat and a surprise–not always a good one–to see someone out of context.

I wrote “Service of a Small World,” in which I marveled at seeing tenants from apartments I’d lived in–very small ones by NYC standards–working in my Manhattan office building. In that post a friend told of bumping into people who live in his tiny Westchester town on frequent trips to Maine and California.

In a text chat last week Chester Draues, [a pseudonym], shared a memory that inspired today’s post. He lived in Tribeca in Manhattan and was starting a new management position training staff. On this his first day he bumped into the super’s new girlfriend on his way out of the building and said “hi.”

Who was one of the employees at his new job? The girlfriend, who later became the super’s wife and mother of his daughter. That day at work they smiled at each other. Draues added, “luckily she was a good worker!”

Worth repeating is my shock at meeting, on West 47th Street in Manhattan, an American Army doctor who had travelled, a few years before, on an Air Force plane we’d boarded in Adana, Turkey and he in Asmara, Ethiopia. We all deplaned in Addis Ababa. We went to the hotel he recommended and followed his advice on other matters such as food choices but were never in contact with him after that even though we’d crash landed in the cargo plane we’d shared…which is another story.

And there was that frightful perfume I’ve mentioned here before. The scene: my first job at a magazine. When the editor-in-chief left suddenly, management hired a freelance editor to pick up the slack. This woman was so malicious in tearing up both me and my copy that I’d return to my office unable to write my byline much less attempt a revision. [Always take away something good from every job I’ve advised countless students I’ve mentored. From this woman I learned how NEVER to treat a writer when I later became an editor.] She wore a distinctive perfume. A year later I was in the Hamptons on Long Island at an antique show. As I entered I detected that singular, nasty scent. There she was staffing a booth. I missed that side of the exhibit so as to avoid her.

Can you recall any chance meetings in unexpected places that delighted or upset you?

Service of Surprises that Cost Little and Make a Day

Monday, October 26th, 2020

A small gesture or effort, an unexpected tweak, can make a person’s day. I’ve written about these often. It’s fun to be on either side–recipient or donor.

In Vino Veritas

Since March I’ve bought wine at a local store rather than at the discounted Trader Joe’s that’s 25 blocks away. Each time I visit there are different clerks, all nice, mostly men. I buy inexpensive wine–two bottles at a time–as the store is my last stop on my way home. I’m already loaded up with groceries and still have four blocks to go.

On my last visit Sussex Wine [photo above] was empty and the clerk and I chatted. She could tell that this was not my first visit. She asked me if I was in their system: by sharing my phone number and name I’d be registered in their awards plan. After 300 points a customer gets a $10 discount. They’d never call me, she promised. The men hadn’t told me of this benefit before. I “enrolled.” As I left she told me she’d started me off with 200 points. Wow!

Milking It

There wasn’t a quart of fat free or 1 percent milk in Gristedes, the local grocery store. I walked to the front–milk seems to be as far from the door as possible in every store–and found a clerk sitting on a box restocking the lowest shelf. I asked if they expected a delivery later in the day. He jumped up, said he thought the truck had just arrived, dashed outside and came back with a quart of skim. Golden service! As I left I saw that they hadn’t yet brought out a hand truck to unload the order.

When Everything Goes Wrong

There were two clerks at CVS drugstore both of whom were having time-consuming problems checking out their customers. The manager came, spoke with each and just before he opened a third cash register to alleviate the growing checkout line a floor clerk said she also needed him.

He started to enter my order at the third register–we too ran into a hitch–when he left to again help the two cashiers whose customers had already been there for far too long. I didn’t see him again for quite a while. When he came back to me he apologized profusely and often and looked gloomy. He expected to hear me rant about the delay.

I smiled, said I saw that he was stretched beyond reason and not to worry. His relief and gratitude was palpable. It was a joy to see his mood change to cheerful. As he handed me my receipt he was overjoyed to tell me that I had a $6.00 rewards coupon.

Have you received a happy surprise or been able to please someone unexpectedly, at little cost? Does the stress over the pandemic and/or the election have something to do with some people-helping-people in important small ways?

Service of Happy Surprises: Contango IT Will Make Your Day

Monday, July 17th, 2017

I associate a surprise with a treat. I enjoyed both recently.

The place: The kitchen in my office

The time: Lunch

One of my office friends was making a cup of coffee. As I walked past him to get my daily seltzer I mumbled that I was so much in the mood for lemonade but would settle for the cold fizzy water I’d stored in the fridge.

As I returned to my space a few of the others in the office were milling about, putting food in the microwave, washing a dish or walking down the hall.

Sean Galvin, service coordinator, Contango IT

Around 4 pm Sean Galvin, a service coordinator fairly new at Contango IT, one of the other businesses in the office, walked into my room, put a bottle of Tropicana lemonade on my desk, didn’t say a word and left. Imagine that! The surprise made me so happy. The lemonade was delicious.

Contango is a leader in IT consulting, wiring/infrastructure and custom programming–a pioneer in cloud computing since 2008 with a client list of household names. This growing company is staffed with young and bright, informed millennials with a range of extracurricular interests making them fun to speak with after hours. Danny Mizrahi, founder and principal, knows how to pick staff. They work hard; are conscientious, and at the same time are thoughtful neighbors. Previously they’ve cheerfully participated in posts on this blog, sharing titles of their favorite scary movies and IT buzzwords that irritated them.

We are bombarded daily with examples of greed and selfishness so that a kind act takes on additional significance. Have you benefited by a surprise lately that warmed your heart?

Service of Surprises

Monday, March 28th, 2011

I’m a control freak but with the exception of surprise parties, I love most of them, which may be why I buy lotto tickets. I just heard that the winner of the $312 million Mega Millions jackpot ticket lives in Albany. Eight people shared the ticket, actually. I had fun dreaming of what a surprise winning a chunk of money like that would be for me and some of the people I know.

I won a drawing for big bucks at Pottery Barn years ago. The amount was enough to buy the most expensive thing at the store or a nice selection of the rest. When the store called me at home on a Saturday morning, I knew it was real-not a friend with a tease–because I hadn’t told a soul that I had dropped my name in a fishbowl on the counter. I also won a big football pool which got the serious enthusiasts furious because it was just luck on my part.

Not all surprises involve money or winning. Here are a few I’ve noticed lately.

parkshotssculpture2**On my walk to work last week I first saw silver and copper-colored life-size sculptures of men sitting on benches, standing or kneeling facing one another or posing alone on 47th Street between First and Second Avenues. There’s no way to tell who the artist is-I’ve looked and asked others who were also snapping pictures. I wonder if parksculpturesmall2the city is paying for these visitors or if the artist is renting the space, using Target’s model of “I’m not telling you who I am.” You may remember the very first Target TV commercials that featured the logo, but never the name, of the then unknown retailer.

**I guess tourists whose cell phones don’t work in the US find the burgeoning phone booths in midtown handy and those whose mobile phone service is sketchy around skyscrapers welcome them as well. They are also handy to display poster adverts. I began to realize that phone booths were back in droves relatively recently. They snuck in or phoneboothssmallI’m distracted as I walk from place to place.  I wonder how long the phones will work.

**There was no looting in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami! I saw a great political cartoon about this and a friend who reads internet news voraciously said that this fact was the talk of the town.

**Brenna Ehrlich reported on the Mashable blog, “OMG, the Oxford English Dictionary Added New Words! We ‘Heart’ It! LOL!.”  What’s officially accepted in our language is often a surprise.

Some people may not like the spontaneity connected with surprises. Do you? I’d love to hear of some new or remarkable ones you’ve observed or benefited from.

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