MARK’S ARTICLE -- March 4, 2010
“Waiting with Margaret”
Last night, I looked all over for a book I had been nursing for the last month. It was one of those whodunits, and I was gonna finish that bubba or know the reason why.
The characters hadn’t been fleshed out enough for me to care all that much who the murderer was, but I had invested too much time to let it go. You ever get that way with a book?
So, I’m looking all over for the paperback. After a few minutes I realized it had been stolen. Same with my houseshoes, the clothespin used to seal the Cheetos bag, the downstairs phone and my erasable crossword puzzle pen. There’s something diabolic going on at the Hayter house. Most days.
Oddly enough, everything mysterious reappeared… in places you don’t even wanna know. Everything except the book. I eventually tried the oldest trick in the book. No, not the lost book. Now, you’re just being silly. No, I tried the ol’ where’s-the-last-place-you-remember-seeing it trick.
After a couple of minutes, I reluctantly realized the book hadn’t been stolen at all. You coulda knocked me over with a truck tire. I had left the book in the waiting room of the Toyota service department! Khaaaan!
Took me another couple of minutes to realize that Ricardo Montalban had little to do with me leaving my book at Gullo. It was Margaret’s fault. Margaret was an elderly woman I sat next to in the waiting room. She did it.
You see, when I entered the waiting room, I took the first seat that became available. Had to push an old man down to get to it. Feisty old codger. Wouldn’t stay down. (A joke! Sheesh.)
When I sat down next to the Margaret I couldn’t help notice that she was knitting. Her lap being covered with a big purple knitted thing gave her away
I didn’t engage the woman in conversation immediately. I was in a waiting room. Didn’t I mention that? It’s quieter than death in a waiting room. Quieter than that in an elevator. Negative sound.
It takes guts to speak up in a quiet place. And, I’ve got guts. Lots of guts. Before even opening my later-to-be-left book, I asked Margaret what she was knitting. She said it was a sweater for her niece.
Her smile and polite manner told me that she was not the least leery of conversation. So, I put my book down and pried into the lady’s past. I can be a prier.
The lady didn’t look nearly as old as her remembrances. They went way back. Margaret has a degree in Chemistry. Don’t know if you knew that. She once attended Syracuse University to get her Masters. She didn’t finish there, though. I think it had to do with the winter. She talked of snowdrifts that buried her car. Being from Los Angeles, she wasn’t used to stuff like that.
Margaret has traveled all over. She mentioned mostly Asian locales: Thailand, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan. She liked the Philippines best, ‘cause she said the people were the friendliest.
As she talked, others in the waiting room began to pick up on the conversation. They were all beginning to feel comfortable talking while waiting. When Margaret mentioned she was from Los Angeles and had witnessed a number of earthquakes, a lady to my right asked if, during an earthquake, it felt like you were standing on Jell-O. Margaret said, “No, it’s more like you’re standing on nothing. It’s just odd.”
So much stuff. The conversation took a dive when Troy came in to let me know my car was ready. Troy is one of my ex-students. A nicer guy would be hard to find.
“Mr. Hayter, we just changed your oil. Your brakes are fine.” I told him that was unacceptable and that he needed to go back and find something wrong. I wouldn’t have said that to just anybody. Troy laughed and said, “Mr. Hayter, I’m not back in school. You don’t hafta find something wrong.”
What a great guy. What a great lady. What a super visit. Except for the paperback. I think somebody stole it while I was there. -- “Okay, Mr. Hatesquiet, I’ll just relieve you of this. By the way, the police chief did it.” – That would be doing me a favor.
Troy in 1986 Yearbook