Flat Tire on 47th

manhattan-new york-busy

Late afternoon meeting.  Location: Cross town.

83°F. Mid August. Sticky. Cotton dress shirt is clinging to my chest.

Take a Cab? Rachel suggests it’s 15 minutes point to point on foot. Cab? A crap shoot in cross town traffic.

I hoof it down 47th. Building construction has cut the sidewalk in half. 2 lanes, with a solid lane divider. No passing due to heavy oncoming traffic.

I’m closing the gap with a middle aged man in front of me. His head is down tapping on smartphone. My pace slows to crawl. I cut the gap to a few feet.

I try to pass on his right. Not enough room. I slow and trail behind him.

What’s the rush, right? Breathe a little.

He hasn’t lifted his head. Inconsiderate SOB is still tapping out texts. Oblivious to the growing conga line behind him.

I attempt to pass on left. He leans left. I re-grip the handle on my bag and prepare to side-step him on the right.

As I begin to pass, my shoe catches the back of his shoe, his heal crumbles, he stumbles.

I look back and see that’s he’s upright. Good.

So Sorry!

Sorry? Sorry? You’ve ruined my shoe!

The Walk Sign flashes and signals Don’t Walk. I stop and he advances. Along with the gathering conga line.

I said I’m sorry

“Do you see my shoe?” He’s walking on top of the back of his shoe.

I’m rifling through my options:

  • Option A: Get in his grill. Level of immediate satisfaction: HIGH.  Downside? A potential bad outcome. Side Benefit: Provide ample entertainment to the crowd.
  • Option B: Apologize for the third time. Level of immediate satisfaction: ZERO. Probability: LOW.
  • Option B+: Apologize for the third time + offer a monetary concession. Level of immediate satisfaction: NEGATIVE. Probability: Grrrrrrr.
  • Option C: Walk away. Take the high road. Level of immediate satisfaction: LOW. A low fat, low calorie ice cream bar.

The crowd continues to build. I look down. He’s fussing with the back of his shoe. The light is about to change. He’s still mouthing off, and approaches…

Years ago
when I became tough as a nail
I became a nail

~ Jim Harrison & Ted Kooser, Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry

Photograph by Vitaliy Piltser


  1. You left us hanging like this?? Let me guess. You’re writing about it already tonight so you probably didn’t take option A. Options B and B+ have zero and negative LOS respectively. What’s left? Option C. (With note to self. Justification.) ??

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cliffhangers do have the advantage of leaving it to the readers imagination……… I imagine you gettin’ all up in his grill…… 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. And then????

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Never heard of “get in his grill” before, is that a local phrase?

    How did you managed to make his heal (heel?) “crumble” by catching it with your toe? Maybe “catch” is a euphemism for “smash into with extra high velocity”? Sounds like it needed replacing anyway, you were just the catalyst.

    Did you not consider Option D – stamp on his toe and run?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. And…..?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. i walked away….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hogging the lane – then a rear end fender fender. To be expected in heavy traffic. Texting-while-walking? Inexcusable. Even the tourists have better sense than that…although they have been known to come to a dead stop in the middle of the sidewalk to take a photo and cause a frustrating pileup…

    I usually do a light brush-by with an apologetic ” ‘scuse me ” which rates a dark look but not much else. I have been threatened once or twice though with speeding and taken my foot off the accelerator for a bit out of guilt.

    I say just loosen the laces, straighten out the dent, and move on with an apology and a handshake…. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Keep up with the flow of traffic…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Think about ignoring the Don’t Walk sign to get away from this guy?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Denied a denouement? DK, you’re toying with us! I’m gonna go with ‘C’, though, as it involved a metaphorical ice cream, and we know how it is with you and ice cream. It’s your kryptonite….


  11. Was the ice cream good?… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Definitely sounds like a ploy on his part to get you to pay for a new pair of shoes that were already broken.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. “Do you see my shoe?” He’s walking on top of the back of his shoe. – Well, what would YOU have done if you had to walk on top of the back of your shoe now??? Lol. I’m guessing you RAN across the street when the light changed. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. His shoe was wrecked when he left home that morning and he was looking for someone to blame 🙂 MJ


  15. Great story. Its taken me years to get to where I can “C”, but on occasion I still enjoy twisting the knife a little.
    The poem, so very apropos.

    Liked by 1 person

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