The Five New Yorkers You Meet In Heaven

  1. Salt-pepper-ketchup? The dedicated sandwich chef at your local deli can change a neighborhood of moods. He toasts the bread right. He lets the cheese melt. He knows Hot Pepper Guy versus Sweet Pepper Woman. In his brain, the index of regular orders sticks, and the newbies matter too. Deli sandwich man is the first New Yorker you meet in heaven.
  2. Happy train conductor. This person is not annoying unless you want him to be. His mission, against all odds, is to deliver a planned script to every grumpy passenger from morning commute to late-evening rush. He wants to make you happy no matter how long you spent looking for your keys on the way out. No matter how many bullshit work emails you ignored. He is repeating 60 words forged by 10 years of experience. One R-train conductor I had recently turned routes A-C-E-1–2–3 into the Jackson Five tune. “This is Times Square (Forty Deuce!) where you can transfer to the…A-C-E …easy as 1–2–3! The 7 train. Q-W going to QUEENS or BROOKLYN!” A masterpiece orchestra, honestly. Juantxo is the 2nd New Yorker you meet in heaven.
  3. Smiling public baby. Baby does not know any better. She ate well and she’s happy. Much of the world is inconsequential to her. So now, she can flash her cute smile at you and claw her baby fingers at the tepid subway air. Her mom’s on the phone, scrolling IG and tapping WhatsApp responses. Here’s you and the baby, sharing smiles that won’t survive past the ride. Her toothlessness bumps like favorite albums and her innocence proves you’re still alive. And real. Baby wears a winter cap with chin strap and careless drool. You wear heavy regrets and rain boots. You both feel no weight. Adelaide is the third New Yorker you meet in heaven.
  4. Caribbean nanny. Braylen doesn’t annoy the Caribbean nanny. She’s the only soul he’s unable to bother. He wants this toy. He wants that snack. Merle volleys each request like a slow serve and soothes him at once. Braylen’s coat drapes his wrists and his backpack defies gravity, inches from falling. Merles picks up the coat. She pats his head, and stays stern. Merle knows Braylen won’t face real resistance in his life so this is her job. Provide resistant love. Make Braylen aware of his gifts. Braylen will never appreciate love from a low place so he demands again. Merle is the fourth New Yorker you meet in heaven because she sealed her rest long ago.
  5. Rainy dog shit cleaner. Devin’s not going to be one of those people who leave shit behind. He moved to Lefferts Gardens three years ago with a wave of people who could afford it and save a little to boot. Darrin, from Marketing, moved to The LG, and he’s from here. That makes it cool. He doesn’t mean any harm. When he walks Max, a rascally terrier mix, he makes sure he isn’t messy. The smokers leave butts behind and the pitbull owners litter the park with shit. Max is a good dog and Devin’s a good man. Even when it snows, he brings the bag and paper towels. He could leave the shit in the grass or act like it wasn’t him but he doesn’t act that way. Devin is a good New Yorker and the fifth one you meet in heaven.



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Andrew Ricketts

Andrew Ricketts


I’m a Caribbean and American writer from New York. My stories are about coming-of-age, learning how to relate, and family. It’s a living, breathing memoir.