[I actually wrote this last year, and chose not to post it. My standards back then were much higher.]
Yesterday [IF YESTERDAY WERE IN THE YEAR 2005--ed.] at the local Barnes and Noble: an extremely old woman in a wheelchair, unhappy about most everything and letting everyone know it. When I first heard her she was planted by the magazines, grousing about the placement of a bench. “Why is this bench here when it wasn’t here yesterday?” she growled to all the readers who were avoiding her coke-bottle-glassed glare. “How do you expect me to get by when this bench is right here with all these people on it?” This seemed sensible. How could she pass through matter when she herself is composed of matter? Do they take her for a neutrino?
While thinking this I looked away, and when I heard her again she had somehow whipped her wheelchair around so that she was reversing herself down the narrow space between the reading benches and the magazine stand, purposely backing into a group of schoolchildren who were reading “Tiger Beat” or whatever kids read. “Beep beep beep!” she yelled. “Wheelchair, backing up! Wheelchair! Backing up!” The schoolchildren were frightened. Some of them scrambled out of the way, while others stared in horror at the wheels about to crush them. “You’re not allowed to sit there! Move it! Move it! You’re disgusting!” she yelled. At last an employee intervened, gently stating, “Ma’am, stop abusing the customers. The children are allowed to sit there. The children are not disgusting.”