Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Monkey Rides The Conveyor Belt


When I first met Peggy thirty or more years ago she and her boyfriend Richard were renting a duplex nearby. When Richard had come back from Vietnam he was having some mental problems and perhaps smoking a bit too much pot because he was getting a military disability pension, but for the most part he managed to work a bit of construction from time to time. Peggy was the stay at home housewife and they managed to get by. A few years later they managed to afford living in a rented house a dozen blocks away and her niece moved in with them. Her brother at that point was heavily in to drugswhen he wasn't in jail, and I never did find out where the little girl's mother was.

Stephanie, my wife at the time, encouraged Richard and Peggy to get married but they never did. Peggy was never able to read and write much beyond her name, and can only handle the simplest of math. A real job of any sort is of the question. Had they married she would have been eligible for widows' benefits when Richard died at about age forty, but they never did, so she manages to get by on welfare and food stamps. Now she lives with her dogs in a little trailer. She never found another boyfriend. Richard was the one love of her life.

I run into her by chance once in awhile, and on a rare occasion she'll call me. This particular day I took her to the supermarket. She'd just gotten her month's supply of food stamps and Monkey went along for the ride. Sometimes I run into the niece at Subway. She has some college, a good job, and a loving husband.

Last week I saw Peggy standing at the bus stop outside of the trailer park waiting for the bus. Good timing, because it was just starting to rain. I gave her a ride to the doctor and a folding umbrella in case it was raining on her way home. The 99 cent store sells these pretty decent made-in-China folding umbrellas. I usually buy them ten at a time and keep them behind the passenger seat in my truck. I'm always giving them away to people and I make sure that I keep one for myself. That one stays safely hidden behind the driver's seat.

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