Tuesday, October 24, 1989
Betsy is a grandmotherly sort. Gray hair, sweet face. You can tell immediately that money is tight. She lives alone in a one-room apartment over a garage.
Somebody kicked in her front entry. She's hired me to replace it with a crummy used door that she found leaning against a dumpster. I'll have to swap out the hinges and locks, then adjust the weatherstripping before she leaves for her job at three o'clock.
"Shouldn't the landlord pay for this?" I ask.
"No," Betsy says.
She watches me work. Occasionally she glances at something called The Daily Word, which is a Bible quote with a little sermon. She moves her lips as she's reading. Otherwise, she's silent. A simple, lonely woman, I'm thinking. To make conversation, I ask an easy question: "Where do you work?"
"Oh, you know," she says as if I might. Then it comes in a gush: "I used to run the Bar Association but it got too crazy so now I work at Stanford because they have good benefits and I do some extra bookkeeping on the side. I thought I'd be retired by now. I was planning to travel around in the motor home but now I can't afford to and I need to sell it. You interested?"
"No. Sorry." There's a boxy Fleetwood, dented and dirty, parked in the driveway.
We're quiet for a while. She watches me work and glances at The Daily Word.
I don't know why, but for some reason I remark: "I see a lot of motor homes with a bumper sticker that says WE ARE SPENDING OUR CHILDREN'S INHERITANCE."
"You don't like that?" she asks.
"It seems sad."
"Why not spend it? My son's an addict. I used to have a lot of fine antiques. Now look."
"Is that who kicked in the front door? Your son?"
"He's broken," she says. "Like an egg on a sidewalk."
A grandmotherly sort. Gray hair, sweet face. She has one room and The Daily Word.