The line to the Market Basket donuts/coffee counter was 0. So, I asked, “Where is everybody? There’s normally 15 in line when I come in.”
“Wait 5 minutes. 10:00 is the first break.”
“Oh, I see.”
I had dropped Ferne off at the Vets Hall for dance lesson a little earlier than usual.
“I’ll take one of those double chocolates and a small black.”
I walked into the table area. Mostly deserted except for a pod of over-eighties just inside the entrance.
Do I want to eavesdrop on a play-by-play recount of a pinochle game last night? Or a vivid description of Mabel’s hip operation (broken in 3 places) again. No, not this morning.
So, I took a seat at the mid-section by the windows. That’s where the MB employees go on their 15-minute breaks. Maybe I can trawl for some love-losts, dumb-managers, or restraining-order violations… for a story idea.
The crowd came… and went. Damn smart phones obsoleted eavesdropping on juicy conversations. Hardly any talk at all.
After a few minutes, a young lady wheeled an older woman to a table two spots away. She moved a chair aside, aligned the wheelchair up to the table precisely, and propped a pillow behind the older woman.
They seemed to whisper a few words, then the younger went to the counter and returned with muffins and teas.
After a moment, I could hear, “It’s too big.”
The younger retrieved a plastic knife from an over-sized bag and sliced the muffin in half.
“That’s what the clerk said.”
“Doesn’t look… ”
“Well, mine is apple. You want that instead?”
I couldn’t discern the rest of the conversation. But, in a minute it looked like the older was crying.
The younger moved the chair away from the table and over to the restroom, propped the door open with her foot, then maneuvering the chair, backed into the room, and closed the door.
In 5 minutes, in exact reverse, emerged again and returned to their table.
“You didn’t cover the muffin? It’ll be all dried out.”
“No, Mrs. Reed, it’ll be fine. It was only a minute.”
“It looks dry.”
“Here, I’ll trim off a bit more.”
…Quieter conversation for 10 minutes I couldn’t register…
I looked outside and noticed an occupied ‘chair-van’ parked in the handicap space near the entrance. No specific sponsor on the side, probably a private service.
The younger lady used a napkin to brush a few traces of muffin off Mrs. Reed, then covered her legs with a blanket (even though it’s June), rolled her out to the parking lot, and set all the chair locks.
The driver dismounted, operated the lift, and gently placed Mrs. Reed into position behind the driver’s seat. After a few minutes fussing with safety straps, the young lady placed the suitcase size bag into the van, then sat in a jump seat beside the wheelchair.
As they drove off I wondered… Will I ever rate a pretty young nurse taking me out for tea and a muffin on Wednesday mornings?
I finished my cold coffee and the last chocolate crumbs, then gathered my Steno tablet and returned to the Vets Hall to pick up Ferne.
As long as I have her, I have the best job on Earth.