My school was on Park Avenue and East 26th Street near the very cool and famous
Flat Iron Building. Every morning my roommate, Arkady, and I walked up First Avenue from 14th Street. If you’re familiar with Manhattan you know this neighborhood consists of eight-story brick apartment buildings with businesses on the ground floor. That’s where–to this day–you’ll find a bagel shop called, Ess-a-Bagel.
I never actually went into Ess-a-Bagel. But as we walked by there each morning we couldn’t help noticing a lady in the window on the third floor. She’d be leaning out the window, just above the flowerbox. She had long wavy brown hair. I think she was Hispanic or maybe Jewish. To me, at age 24, she looked middle-aged.
She was there every morning. We began calling her The Ess-a-Bagel Lady.
After a month or so, I started nodding to her. She’d smile and nod back. After another month I’d wave.
She’d wave back. I never thought about blowing her a kiss—ours was strictly a platonic relationship. Arkady poked fun at my fascination with her.
The Ess-a-Bagel Lady intrigued me. It was like she never left her perch. Like she was standing guard over First Avenue. I felt like we knew each other and if either of us ever needed anything we’d be there for each other.
But then one day she wasn’t there. Her window was closed. I pointed it out to Arkady and he laughed. The next morning came and no Ess-a-Bagel Lady. All kinds of things went through my mind. Did she die? Did she need help? I would have, could have, helped her, you know?
She never appeared again. I never even knew her name.
Our church has an initiative this year called, Be a Bridge. The idea is to get to know your neighbor. Not for evangelism. Just to get to know them. In case maybe they need your help someday. Or vice versa. I think this is a great idea. Especially since I don’t even know the names of some of the people who live adjacent to me.
Three questions: Who’s your Ess-a-Bagel Lady? Who’s your Ess-a-Bagel Man? Who’s your Ess-a-Bagel Kid?
Take it from me. Reach out to them. They might need your help. Reach out to them before the window closes and they are gone.