Margery was a paranoid neurotic.
Often times this was her undoing. If she had taken the time to learn to be more flexible, more receptive, she might not have had such a difficult time.
She was terrified of visitors, mistrustful of the phone company, and on many occasions she developed conspiratory ideas about her bill collectors and service people in general. Though she had become accustomed to using technology in her job, she had a growing dislike for more technological advances and assumed malfunctions in equipment were somehow a personal vendetta against her. If the phone rang and no one was at the other end she assumed it was a prankster or malicious caller rather than a robo-call or a miss-dial. She was impatient and hated answering machines, voicemail, and virtual technology, if she got a service that asked you to dial 1 for English, she simply hung up the phone. At times this made it difficult for her to accomplish business by phone, and the fact that more companies utilized these types of services to handle their business made it increasingly difficult for Margery.
She had lived in the building for the past 30 years, all of her adult life, and she didn’t see any reason to change that. She was superstitious about many things and mistrustful of others. It was not likely, at fifty that she was going to change and the prospect of life moving on to something different at this point was slim.
She had a housekeeper who came twice a week. It had taken her 5 years to find her. She was difficult and this often made it hard for her to find help. Her quirks along with her limited patience made it impossible for others to comfortably work for her. She spoke to them as if they were incompetent, constantly giving instructions and criticizing every detail of the task. It didn’t seem that she could just be happy that she didn’t have to do it herself, or that others might be capable of accomplishing a task without her expert supervision. After a few weeks of her brand of condescension, most people refused to come back. Her current housekeeper mostly went about her tasks ignoring her, if the job she did wasn’t good enough to her after all this time she could spend another 5 years looking for all she cared. She could complain all she wanted as long as she continued to pay her.
She had grown accustomed to the buildings quirks, even though she was oftentimes frightened by the sudden changes of atmosphere. She had never understood why some days it seemed calm and others it was a Mecca of activity. She found it uncomfortable and occasionally disturbing.
She was a Librarian for 25 years and had just recently retired. Money wasn’t a difficulty because she did not have an extravagant existence and had saved most of what she had earned. But she did not know what she would do with her time now that she did not have to go in to a job every day. It, for Margery was a confusing dilemma to have.
She mostly kept to herself and did not know many of her neighbors. Her friend Lillian lived on the second floor near the stairwell and she lived close to the elevators. She felt right away that this was a testament to their differences and might have avoided the friendship altogether had Lillian not been so friendly and insistent. She was both active and enthusiastic; characteristics that Margery thought were suspicious most of the time. But she was not the type of person who would let you say no to friendship if she liked you. She was always full of interesting talk and had a multitude of interests.
Margery, on the other hand, felt like making friends was a chore. She didn’t know what she liked to do. She had not taken interest in many things due to her extensive fears. She loathed exercise, hated the outdoors, and she didn’t care for cultural activities She thought she was creative though she had not found any medium in which she liked to work, and art supplies she thought too expensive to waste on experimentation, what if she didn’t like the activity, then she would have wasted her money.
She found the theater boring, wasn’t interested in museums, was too particular to enjoy restaurants, and though she liked music she found the combination of people and music together overwhelming.
But when she was with Lillian, none of these things were allowed to matter. Lillian dragged her from activity to activity, making her participate all the while she complained. In the end, she was proficient in several types of painting, could work a mean stitch or two in knitting, enjoyed music in the park, and had tried a few new kinds of food.
But this didn’t change how she was when she was at home. She was difficult at times when it wasn’t necessary. Contrary even, looking for things to say and do just to be irritable. She meddled with things, refolded or re-positioned things that had been cleaned and put away. Instructed others how to complete simple tasks, like vacuuming, and even complained about clutter when there was none. She could have been the poster child for paranoia.
Then one day when she and Lillian had plans, she sat and waited and waited. Lillian did not show up. She went through every emotion in the gambit as to what could have happened or what she could have done to make her fried not want to spend time with her.
She got angry and accused her friend of being inconsiderate, she fussed and fumed and sad the least she could have done would have been to call and leave her a message. But the phone had not rang all day. She accused her of having gone without her and she pouted and petted herself attempting to soothe.
But then she thought about all the wonderful things Lillian had forced her to learn to do. She wouldn’t have gone off to leave her like that. She had been a good friend and it would have been hard for her to just toss her to the side.
Then a thought occurred to her that she had not ever had about anyone. What if something had happened to her, what if she would never see her again? She grew afraid and began to cry.
After several moments of this she pulled herself together, called herself a list of names and picked up the phone. When she did not get an answer she called down to the doorman to see if she had actually gone alone after all. The doorman said Lillian had fallen down the stairs and been taken to the hospital. She had tried to call but the paramedics wouldn’t give her time. He assured her that he had every intention of calling her but things were very hectic and in his busy day he had not had an opportunity to do so.
The doorman fully expected to get a tongue lashing, he was well aware of Margery’s usual behavior. To his surprise she smiled through the phone and said, “Well since she’s okay, I’m going to go and take a nap, it has been a stressful morning and I will need my rest to see her at the hospital, can you tell me where she has gone?”
Shocked and relieved the doorman took a deep breath and gave her the information. When she came down to have a taxi called he was shocked. She almost looked like a young woman. Her hair was down and curled, she wore a pretty flowered dress and wonderfully feminine hat that flattered her face.
“OH my,” he said, “What has happened to you?”
Margery just laughed and said, “I have turned over a new leaf and look what was hiding underneath.”
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