I’m head-down focused on my teen novel. Come first of the year, El Niño or no, it’s going to my editor. Who cares if I’m sitting on a coach adrift in dog hair? Or wearing the same socks five days running? It’s Food Truck Tuesday and I’m in the zone. And like yesterday’s Chinese leftovers, I’m serving up reheated holiday blog fare today. Tuck in!
T’is the season for spreading light in the darkness. And goodwill. Yeah. So why not go out of your way to be nice? Or, at the very least, watch out for missteps. Some can’t be undone. Like when we make choices that negatively alter the course of a relationship.
Fortunately some missteps can be corrected before we royally muck things up. I got one of those the other day as David and I walked to the post office. We passed a neighbor wearing a thin blue dress, bedroom slippers and an agitated expression. She shouted something at us, but with the guy across the street running his leaf blower I couldn’t make out what she said.
This woman is… how can I put this? A bit erratic. Over the years I’ve seen her standing in front of her house screaming at cars (“SLOW DOWN!!”) and at me (“DID YOU SEE THAT GUY? JUST LETS THE DOG RUN AROUND! NO LEASH! NO SENSE!”) Because I never know what I’ll get from her I keep my distance. At that leaf-blowing moment I could easily have pantomimed: Sorry, crazy lady, can’t hear you! I’ll just shrug, smile, wave and keep walking…fast.
But that felt like a misstep. And I had the weird sensation a campus rep from Karma College was taking notes… so I crossed the street and talked to her.
LADY: Did you see the mailman up the street? Has he come down the hill yet?
ANNIE: I didn’t see him, but we already got our mail.
LADY: So did I. But I wonder if he’s passed by yet.
ANNIE: Yeah. I think he’s gone for the day.
She stood there, frowning. The wind picked up and her feet went bluish in those flimsy slippers.
ANNIE: Was there something you wanted to mail? Because we’re walking to the post office right now.
She ran into the house while I imagined her coming back with a twenty-five pound box and a handful of stamps. I thought about leaving. A moment later she re-appeared waving a white envelope… Christmas card size.
LADY: It’s for a man in a nursing home. You’ll take it to the post office for me?
Misstep unstepped. Right foot forward.