Irritation and guilt hit me at the same moment when I saw Rhonda trundling up my driveway. Irritation because I knew that a visit from Rhonda would include a seemingly endless recitation of excruciatingly personal details of her medical condition. Guilt because she’s elderly, she’s my neighbor, and I should be a better person than one who ducks out of sight and pretends not to be at home when neighbors come calling.
I opened the door with a smile, still holding the knife with which I’d been chopping vegetables for dinner (a coincidence, I swear).
“I thought I’d go out for a walk,” she said.
Since Rhonda lives right across the street, traveling from her house to mine isn’t much of a walk. “Ok,” I said.
“Can I come in for a bit?”
“Sure.” I stepped back from the door. “Have a seat at the table while I cook.”
The expected too-much-information ensued. Let’s just say the word “yeast” came up several times and leave it at that. I chopped, stirred, and made sympathetic noises. Rhonda was a crazy old lady when we moved here fifteen years ago. Now she’s older and even crazier.
Rhonda launched into a monologue about taking long walks to escape her husband. After fifty or sixty years of marriage, one can well imagine the need. Maybe she’s not so crazy after all. She likes to walk up to the drugstore about a mile away.
“The manager insisted I take a cart home with me,” she said. “He didn’t want me carrying those bags.”
The crazy bells went off again. Store managers do not send their carts home with the customers. But I let it slide.
A few days later I saw a blue shopping cart parked outside Rhonda’s house. The drugstore we’d discussed has red carts. Apparently, managers all over town foist their carts off on Rhonda. When I next glanced out the window, the cart had vanished. Did she take it back to the store? Does she have a colorful stockpile of plastic carts in the backyard? You won’t catch me going over there to ask.
In the spirit of neighborly camaraderie, I will never rat Rhonda out. She’s one of the original residents of my street full of houses built in the sixties. She may be crazy but she’s got seniority around here. If I catch her endangering herself or someone else, I will naturally intervene. Shopping carts, like yeast, are none of my business.