The Transition Network

New York City Chapter

One Little NY Story

(Posted October 4, 2021)

By Nancy Gold

Location: Hospital - downtown NYC. It all began with me desperately needing to recharge my cell phone. There was only one outlet in the hospital’s lobby for visiting family members. My husband was in special care and after a day with him, my battery and I were drained of energy. In walked a young man, looking equally concerned as I, so I said that I am charging my phone but there is an outlet right underneath it in case you need to charge yours. He said he was good and slumped into a chair not far from me. We both sat quietly taking a break from worrying by looking at a magnificent NYC skyline outlined by a clear summer evening. 

Him: “I am a mason and I build those big high-rise buildings.”
Me: ”Really. What are you working on now?’
Him: “A high-rise on West 85th and Broadway.”
Me: “Really, that’s where I live. Is your building across from the restaurant French Roast?”
Him, smiling: “Yes, it is.”
Me: “I can see your building from the back window of my apartment. I live on West End Ave and 86th. All that banging and grinding. Why do you start so early in the morning? Usually, they start at 8am or 9am when they are constructing.” 
Him, still smiling: “Union rules are to start at 7:30 am but we stop at 3pm because they do not want to pay us overtime.” He said he was here in the hospital because his children’s mother had kidney problems. They were crying every night for their mother. I asked their ages, 4 and 5.

I asked where his charming accent was from. The answer was Jamaica. I said then you know about gripe water. His smile got bigger. I said when my daughter was born (34 years ago), I hired a baby nurse from Jamaica to help me with the first two weeks after I brought my daughter home from the hospital. Virginia was a grandma so I figured she knew her stuff. (He was smiling more broadly now). One day she showed me my daughter’s poops and said I needed to buy gripe water from the drug store. Off I went, methodically going to 11 drugstores up and down Broadway searching for gripe water. No store had it. 

Frantically as only a new mother can be, I called my pediatrician from the street asking where I could buy gripe water. His first very smart question was is your baby nurse from Jamaica? I said yes. His second very smart question was do you know what is in gripe water? I said no. He: “Its main ingredient is alcohol. Do you want to give your newborn daughter alcohol?” My answer was no. After thanking him, I disconnected and thought for a minute about how to handle this quandary. I was caught between an adamant Jamaican baby nurse who I would be living with us for 2 weeks and the health of my new born daughter. The decision was easy. I did the right and smart thing. I went home and told the baby nurse that after visiting so many drugstores, none had gripe water. She agreed with me that it was very strange.

My new friend was laughing now. He did not know that gripe water’s main ingredient was alcohol. I said never give your children alcohol! Being funny, I asked if he was sure he was really from Jamaica?
My phone was charged. I did not want to intrude on his thoughts any more. We parted as new found friends. His wife’s room is next to my husband’s. We wave to each other as we pass and tell each other that we hope that both our partner’s get better soon. Just two NYC humans giving each other support in trying situations.

Do you have a little New York story? Some conversation or action helping another person? Now is your turn to share. We all need connection and positive interaction as it lightens our daily burdens.

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And let’s continue the conversation. Little positive stories make this life of ours more interesting.

Material from, 02:38:41 December 3, 2021.
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