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There but for the grace of you go I

Posted Jul 09 2012 12:00am
It's been hotter than Hades here on the East Coast. Indeed, news reports are saying it's the warmest weather in over 100. Records are being smashed.

All I know, baby it's hot outside. So I stay inside, with a semi working air conditioner that is doing the best job to keep me cool. I can't complain. I have electricity. Parts of the East Coast are still without electricity, and other parts are suffering brown outs because the electric companies cannot keep up with demand.

It's all good.

I daydream a lot that I am in Antarctica. Or the North Pole. Someplace nice and cold. With penguins. And ice.  Can you imagine anything better for a daydream? (Hey folks, this is a G rated blog).

So I found myself at the local supermarket- a ginormous supermarket, getting a few things to eat and various important things like the dreaded toilet paper. Cottage cheese and fruit. It's too hot to eat anything heavy. Some cream for my coffee. Some brown sugar for my tea. A five pound bag of ice to stick in the bathtub and just try to cool off with.

Then I saw her when I was at the salad bar, making dinner for the night.  A woman in her sixties, Immaculately dressed, like she just came out of church, including the requisite church ladies hat in a lovely shade of fuchsia. Thinner than Kate Moss. And with a very strange look in her eye, she yelled at me "Who you staring at bitch"?

I didn't look at her, said a silent prayer that she would just move on. Again, she comes up to me, says a few words which I cannot repeat and spits at me.

I've never seen anyone spit on another human being, other than the now famous VH1 New York/Pumpkin spit episode. I thought it was something done in movies and soap operas, like slapping someone's face, or spilling a drink on someone at a bar.

I don't know what to say, I don't want to look up. The manager comes by. Again, she yells and curses out the manager. A stock clerk who knows this lady, comes over to her, and walks her away, her cursing out a group of people very loudly.

The manager hands me a tissue. Do you want to press charges? The police are on their way. Several other store patrons are pressing charges. I shake my head, no, and hand him my salad. I don't want it now. I don't want any of my groceries. I just want to go home and take a shower. I feel dirty.

"What will happen to her", I finally ask. He replies the cops will take her to the local ER. The ER will evaluate her- make sure she's not drunk or high. He thinks she is on something but doesn't know. "She's a regular", he states. "I've never seen her like this".


On the way out the the door, I see from the corner of my eye, a police car with the woman sitting in the back. I  can hear her cursing as I walk by, despite the windows being up.

Drunk or high. I hope for her case that is all it is. I'm afraid it might be worse- something wrong with her soul. Her eyes scared me when I took my brief glimpse in them. It was like her soul was missing. I've only seen that once before in my life.

I haven't slept since this encounter. It's not due to the heat- it's due to what I am afraid is happening to this woman. I'm hoping she was drunk or high, and released after 12 hours. I'm afraid she was taken to the ER, and is now in a mental hospital. I picture her sitting in a chair, doped up the gills on a drug cocktail like Thorazine,so she's restrained and not spitting. Staring catatonic at a TV screen. Lost in a universe of her own making, imprisoned in her mind.

I know what it's like to be cranky and miserable in this heat. It brings out the worst in me. Add to the mix, hot flashes, and I am beyond cranky. But not at a point where I will spit. Never there. How do I know this woman wasn't just over tired with the heat, hungry and feeling miserable. This might have lead her to a break where one brief moment she made some bad judgements and felt at the end of the rope? Couldn't they just give her a nice cold drink and calm her down.

I need to get dinner for tonight but it's too hot to eat. I'll have an iced tea and a pb and j sandwich. Perhaps tomorrow I will go to the store to get some fruit and since it's a small town, learn about what happened to this poor woman.

On the other hand, maybe I should go a few more miles down the road to the next closest grocery store. I'm afraid I don't want to know what really transpired.

See, how do I know that won't be me some day?

ETA: Big Thanks to Anthony at My Sick Mind for giving me the actual correct quote for the title. Anthony you rock!
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