crazy lady, the prez, 7-11

When I woke up yesterday morning, I was already late. Even with the pledge drive trying to push me out of bed, my down comforter and purring cat were just too appealing.

And my roommate was awake already. My roommate is rarely awake when I'm getting ready for work.

Do you have traffic court?
No, I have homework.

I make my coffee, feed my cat and get ready to go.

Then there was a knock on the door. I saw it was the crazy lady from next door. I know now I shouldn't have answered it.

Are you about to leave?
In a minute, yes.
I was wondering if you had time to take me up to 7-11. Just up the street.

She points towards one of our two 7-11s within walking distance.

Uh, sure.

I finish gathering my things and go out to the car. I pick her up next door.

Now, let me take a moment to tell you about our "crazy neighbors." These are the people whose empty cans of Beast and cigarette butts always end up in our yard. This lady gets in to hit-and-run accidents (I know this because of my roommate's profession) on a regular basis. For the longest time we were sure the husband was dead, because we hadn't seen him in months. They've been nothing but friendly to us, but I know they has difficulties.

When I saw her yesterday she had crusted up blood on her lips and teeth and I wondered if she would ask me to take her to the hospital. I've seen fire trucks and ambulances outside their house at least twice since I've lived here. Nope, 7-11 please.

I was already late, and I could hear my mother's voice in my head.

She had many questions and bits of advice for me:

Don't marry an alcoholic.
My coffee
[cause that's all she got at sevs] is all I have that I enjoy anymore.
I used to be a pretty woman.
Are you finding any good men out there?
What do you do for a living?

I struggled for conversation even in the short drive to and from 7-11. I talked about the President's visit to downtown Norfolk, I talked about the weather. I made sympathetic noises. I felt a bit of hypocrisy as I told her to have a nice day, too when she got out of the car back at her house. Hadn't she just told me many reasons she probably would not have a nice day? No, not because she's in a different financial situation than I am, not because I pray my grandma doesn't become as lonely as she seems, but because she's not happy with her husband right now, she thinks the prime of her life is over, and she seemed so full of regret as she sat next to me.

My roommate and I do the best we can by our neighbors; we've both cut their grass and wheeled their trash can to and from the curb. You know, the way you'd want your loved ones to be treated-- that's how we were brought up. But I do wonder why it occurred to her to ask me for a ride, and I wonder if she would've asked HotCop if I hadn't answered the door.

Maybe she just needed a little company.

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