Mrs. C is a beautiful older woman. We had worked in the same office building for 11 years or so. She was already ripe with age and stooped sharply into a question mark at the time we met. I guess she was a towering 5’4″ at her tallest though with spine bent she is pushing 4’10”.
She was mostly rude but we visited lightly at the coffee maker and I learned that she is a devout Catholic. She told me about lent and some other practices.
We passed in the hall 2 or 3 times a week and I would offer Good Morning or Hi though it was seldom returned.
One day she stopped by my office and asked if she could offer some advice and I said “you bet. Watcha got?” She observed that my office looked busy and official but lacked any pleasing aesthetics. I gotta admit my office was much nicer after following her suggestions.
One day I murmured G’mornin’ while opening an envelope as we passed and she called me back. “Ken, I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t speak to me. I have things I’m thinking about and I don’t want to be interrupted” Oh, OK. I responded.
I stopped greeting her yet more and more often she would initiate a greeting as the years started slipping by. I would dutifully respond but my mind was marking it. She is aging and walking with a cane now.
My company moved to another wing of the building and because of the layout of the office entrance our receptionist receives for the whole wing although there are offices from many different companies. A couple years later she moved her office to our wing just a few doors down.
Mrs. C was rude to my receptionist or didn’t acknowledge at all as she would shuffle by with her walker. Often she would come and go through a side door that tended to stick. If I saw her coming either from the parking area or heading toward the sticking door from the inside I would make an effort to get there first and hold the stubborn door for her.
Well, one day I saw her hobbling by, slowly dragging a leg that no longer cared to cooperate and realized she would soon be at the beast of a door that had needed maintenance for at least 10 years. My mind raced with a decade of rudeness from this strange, beautiful, ancient woman. I paused with internal struggle, then turned and went into my office.
Soon I could hear the struggle. “She’s over 18, she can handle it” I told myself. Mrs. C was caught in the door. It was a grim battle that I could hear but not see and maybe someone else assisted her, I don’t know.
Two days later the maintenance man spent a couple noisy hours fixing the door. Wow!!! It works great now!