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Slice of Life

So I was down at Davenport & Winkleperry, our chosen (and indeed only) coffee shop, had finished about seventy pages worth of edits on Bread Wizard (ok, finished, ha! I had made the teeny little one-line changes and started up another document worth of notes about Things I Have To Address At Some Point In Here for about seventy pages worth of text.*) and packed up my laptop, took a last slug of coffee, and headed out the door to my car.

Partway down the sidewalk, seated on the curb (we have quite large two-step curbs here, owing to settling and historic districts) was an elderly woman. She didn’t look so great. It’s a hot day, and she had a tube in her nose attached to a little bag, and her husband was hovering over her, looking a bit concerned. When he saw me, he lifted a hand hopefully.

I was a bit worried that I was going to have to whip out my phone and call an ambulance, so I hurried over and asked if she was doing okay.

“Oh, well…” He spread his hands. “She’s gonna need a little help getting up…”

She wasn’t a large woman but he was clearly even older than she was. Apparently the heat was bothering her and she had to sit down on the curb, and then he wasn’t able to get her back up, and didn’t want to leave her to go get someone. “Our car’s right here,” he said. “Do you think…?”

“Of course!” I said. She was extremely pale, and I figured we should probably get her up and into air conditioning as soon as possible, however that might be.

“You should go in the shop and get someone,” said the little old lady, in the rather loud voice of the somewhat hard-of-hearing.

“We’ve got someone right here,” he said. “She’s going to help us.”

I stepped around so that she could see me.  She eyed me for a minute, then said, in what she undoubtedly thought was a whisper, “I’m not sure she can do it!”

He gave me a pained look. I grinned. In fairness, while I have been generously endowed in the hip and breast department, my wrists are exceedingly thin and I often wind up wearing children’s-size gloves, so she can be forgiven for thinking that I probably couldn’t bench press a baked potato. And it would be quite awkward–possibly even painful–to have someone try to help you up and fail.

“She’ll be fine,” he said firmly.

“We’ll have you up in no time,” I said, feeling like I should contribute something to the discussion, and reassuring her that I spent a lot of time slinging mulch didn’t seem like it would get us anywhere.

We each took one of her hands and pulled her to her feet. If she weighed more than a loaded wheelbarrow of topsoil, I would be quite surprised.

“Oh!” she said. “Why, thank you!” And then again to her husband, in the not-very-quite whisper, “She did better’n you!”

“Told you,” he said smugly. I tried very hard to not to start laughing.

He got her in the car, thanked me, and offered me a ride home if I needed it. (It occurs to me that they may have thought I was extremely young, which is probably due mostly to the fact that the older you get, the more everybody looks about twelve.) I declined, pointed to my car, and wished them luck.

There is no possible moral to this story, I just thought it was funny.


*If anybody’s ever interested in hear about the weirdass stage of the writing process known as “editing,” I would be happy to do a post about it sometime, but I’m not sure if it’s any more interesting to write about than to live through.

Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.

As someone incapable of editing what I've written (though I've got the flailing and wailing - which I understand are required - down, that in itself isn't that productive and does little to improve the end result), I'm interested to learn how you do it*.

* With the understanding that each to their own, caveat emptor, your method may not be applicable to my problem, it's just pining for the fjords, and nothing beats hard work except hard work and luck, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Thank you for another smile. :)

I'm curious as to how you do edits as it pertains to the multimedia nature of your books, since I'm probably going to have to do some of that in the future and I expect it's different from pure text in non-intuitive ways.

(Deleted comment)
I would love to hear your thoughts, experiences and metaphors on editing!

Also, thanks for bringing a smile to my face with this story!


*grin* Well that just picked my day up off the floor and gave it a new ice cream cone. I'm glad someone had a fun experience today. Thanks for sharing, milady.

I figure that there are nine and sixty ways of editing tribal lays, and learning about other options is always cool!

Also, moral or not, it's pretty nifty to hear about people helping people.

*ears perk up*

Tribal lays?

(Suspicious comment)
Yes! An editing post would be excellent.

This story made me smile. I love hearing about sassy people, period, but I love people who have bite to them no matter their age.

I would like to hear about this "editing" stage!
...Okay, yeah, I know it too, but it'll be hilarious when you tell it.

This was indeed funny, and also sweet, because a distressingly large percentage of people would have pretended not to see Elderly People In Mild Distress and quickly walked away, possibly abandoning their car until the coast was clear. You are also correct that helping someone with movement difficulties up can be DAMN painful, but you did it the right way - i.e. after being asked for assistance instead of just running over and grabbing, and also in the manner the person being helped wanted to use instead of (as I said) running over and grabbing at random. (People who run over and grab other people to 'help' at random need to be sporked, just as hard as people who flee in terror at the idea of Getting Involved need to be sporked.)

I would also like to join the happy chorus of people who would like to hear about your editing methods, because a) I am interested, b) it's always nice to get another perspective on something, and c) the way you write could make phone books and shopping lists HILARIOUS. ;D

Edited at 2012-05-21 10:01 pm (UTC)

This! Especially about sporking and phonebooks.

Given some of the recent confusion over what constitutes "editing", it seems like such a post could be educational as well as entertaining.

Five minutes ago I wasn't smiling, and now I am. See what a difference you can make? All those miles away (I'm in AZ) and you made my face-muscles move involuntarily. Woooooo...... :D

Hey, Az ysabet ... here's shout out from from a 'neighbor' in Phoenix!

Yes, I would LOVE to see how you edit. You always have insightful things to say about any process...and this is a process that's important to me, so I'm very, very interested.

How could we not want to read what you have to say about editing?

Also, I bet if you'd told the old lady you were a gardener she'd have believed you were strong enough to be useful.

"the older you get, the more everybody looks about twelve"

This statement is so incredibly true. I substitute teach and even some of the high school seniors look 12 to me. And I'm only 26.


Yes! Last year (the year after I graduated from college), I was back at home and would go by the local university at least once a week, which I hadn't had occasion to do very much before, and ALL of the college students looked like they belonged in high school. Or possibly middle school.

That was very lovely of you, and I'm glad they had you around to help :)