I had to go to the Lehigh Valley today - for an appointment. Thanks to four - yes, four! - construction zones on the turnpike, I arrived at my destination just a few minutes ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, a few minutes was all it took to remind me why I don't EVER talk to strangers (or pretty much anyone, for that matter) unless it is absolutely necessary.
When I got to the office, the secretary was there, along with an older woman. The secretary was behind the desk, the older woman was standing in front of it, and they were carrying on a conversation. I actually thought for a moment that the older woman was another secretary. Alas, no.
As I sat, waiting, in one of the two chairs in the waiting area, the older woman sat in the other one. I tried to ignore her, but it's a small office and there weren't any magazines handy. The woman asked what appeared to be a harmless question. I answered as briefly and as generically as I could. And, then, the woman proceeded to give me the cliff notes version of her life story.
I think it only lasted a couple of minutes (it seemed longer), but that was more than enough time for her to tell me how she worked for 14 1/2 years as a district manager for (name of company here). She needed 15 years for a full pension or something, but some young whippersnapper of a boss figured that letting her go would be a good way to save the company some money and make himself look good. She could have filed a lawsuit, she said, but apparently all the companies were doing it, so what was the use? Anyway, she headed down South where her no-good brother was planning to put dear old Mom in a nursing home. Well, the woman wasn't having any of that. She took care of mom and made her last days/weeks/months/years very happy. What was her reward? Mom left everything to the brother because, said the woman, she didn't realize he was a no-good louse. But, see, the woman figures that getting fired was a blessing in disguise because she was able to help out her mom.
That's nice, I said.
But, wait. There's more. Seems the woman at some point also went through a divorce. Her husband had a mental illness and she had to divorce him - legal advice, I think. Anyway, the woman said she's now starting to see the signs of that same mental illness in her four children. Did I have children?
No. I have a dog, I said.
But wait, there's more. Fast-forward to the present day, where it's tough for a woman on her own to take care of a house and a fairly large lawn. She said she promised God that she would only mow half the yard at a time. But, one day, she decided to mow the whole thing. Wouldn't you know it? Half-way through, the lawnmower broke down. The woman figures it was a sign.
Must be, I said. Yeah, a sign that next time, I should maybe show up late.