My coworker, good friend, and sister-in-arms was mopping her stone floor while wearing nylon socks last Friday. As a result she suffered a broken wrist, various contusions to her body and her face, and may possibly have a bone chip lodged in her sinus cavity. She looks like a battered woman. Trust me, if she had been battered the other guy would have looked worse. Far worse. Probably dead.
I know. I know. You want to know more about the nylon socks. So did I. It’s still a mystery, though. I have no further light to shed on this phenomena. I asked her if she had procured them from some ninety-year-old man at the local nursing home. And, if so, were they still attached to their garters? Who wears nylon socks anymore? Of course, I should know better than to ask. She wears support hose. And owns a hot water bottle.
She stopped in for garbage bags today. She claimed it was because she did not want to scare any children at the grocery store. We both know it’s because she would rather not pay for them. I’m pretty sure she regularly shops for things like garbage bags, toilet paper, and other janitorial supplies at work. It’s a shame that we had no paper bags for her to put over her head.
While on her mission to procure said garbage bags, she allowed me to buy her lunch. I had to cut her meat. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Thanks, Ethel. I always suspected my life would come to this. I’m just glad it’s you cutting up my food.” I told her that I would have to draw the line at spoon-feeding and sponge baths. I am, however, going over to her place tomorrow afternoon to shampoo her hair. Because she looks like Medusa after a bender. If Medusa was a redhead who had taken a bad spill.
Everyone, except for me, was treating her with kid gloves. She’s more than a little embarrassed about her accident and about what she currently looks like. She’s a lot embarrassed that she doesn’t have any money put aside for this particular rainy day. Buying her lunch was the least I could do. She told me yesterday that we had better not be working on putting together a collection, as she will not take any money from us. She likes to say that she’s a prideful old southern lady, which, I was forced to explain to her once again, is just a highfalutin’ way of saying stubborn old bitch. Folks who need assistance slicing up their filet mignon and “pulling up their britches” have no business putting on airs. Yes. I had to help her in the Ladies. I’d rather not dwell on it. It’s going to be an uphill battle dealing with her over the next four to six weeks. God help me.
She lives alone. She didn’t always. Up until a year ago she lived with her son, his wife, and her “grandbabies”. That’s when her son’s job took him back to Atlanta. She was supposed to go with them, but stayed so that she could pay off her truck. She has two more payments on the damn thing. I’m going to pay it. I swear to God I am. She needs her family.
She’s a worker. A hard worker. She has always worked outside of the home, mostly at jobs involving manual labor. Unlike many “women of a certain age” she is not what you would call “schooled” in the domestic arts (though she makes a mean chocolate dump cake). I do not know what could have possessed her to take up floor cleaning last week. Considering that the only kitchen utensil she owns is a spatula that I gave her last Christmas, I was pretty shocked by her mop ownership. She admitted that she had borrowed it from her landlady. Of course she did. Who “borrows” a mop? Who lends one? Who wears nylon socks? Does the landlady have a bathing suit or a pair of panties I can borrow?
Throughout the course of our lunch, she must have told the story of how she became injured to coworkers and customers ten times. No one else commented on the nylon socks. I guess it’s just me. Anyway, every time she retold the tale I nearly peed in my non-borrowed underwear. The less than graceful image of her skidding across the stone tile, nylon socks failing to make purchase, grappling with the unfamiliar mop, arms akimbo, and then, SPLAT! It was almost too much for me to bear. I mentioned that this Christmas, in addition to some cotton socks, I should buy her a Life Alert necklace.
It won’t do her any good, though. Because, let me just mention this, she called ME when she fell. At work. (She actually said, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”. I swear.) She refused to let me call an ambulance. I had to hunt down a coworker to collect her and take her to the emergency room. Apparently she crawled to the door because she didn’t want this good Samaritan to bear witness to her slovenliness. Breaking your wrist may mess with your cleaning plans, but not with your wits. It seemed that she was still in possession of the few she started out with. She wasn’t going to pay top dollar to “no goddam ambulance to take her down the road a piece”. So, unless I can get the good folks at Life Alert to put me on the receiving end of her necklace, I may as well buy her a whisk.