Silence. Optional versus Non-optional.

So there was a knock at my screen door a few days ago and I look out, seeing a very slender woman, shoulder length hair, wary smile, definitely no one I knew.  I opened up the door and see that she has a sticky note with a phone number on it, a phone, and three dollars.  I should insert at this point, I am terrible at charades and lip-reading.  At first she points at the paper, then holds out the money and then the phone.  “Is that my phone?”, I ask.  “No, it isn’t”, I respond.  She shakes her head no.  “Will I buy the phone?  No.”  Again no.  Then she offers the paper and the money.  “Will I call this number for you?”  Yes, she nods.  I brush aside the money and reach for the number.  It’s our local cable company.  She starts talking, but again I don’t read lips.  She starts pointing towards her house and I say, “You want me to call them about your cable?”  Yes.  “It isn’t working?”  Correct.  Okay.

I call the number, she sits down at my patio table and I get someone on the phone.  “Hello?  Yes, my neighbor’s cable isn’t working.  Her name?  I don’t know her name.  The address?  Yes, I know the address.”  I pace.  She sits and stares at me.  Then the lady on the phone is back.  She can’t find an account at this address.  I ask my seated friend if she knows the name on the account.  She mouths a bunch of stuff.  See above note.  I tell the lady on the phone to hold on and I get a pad and pen from inside.  “Can you write?”  Yes, she nods and begins to write a name.  No, we don’t have an account in that name.  “Do you have another name?”  Yes.  Okay, we have that one. 

“What is the TV doing exactly?”  She does a lot of gestures.  We lose the charade game in the first round.  I tell the lady on the phone, “Look, I don’t know what it’s doing; it doesn’t work and we need a technician to come out.”  I look at “Sherry” and she is nodding in agreement.  “The earliest will be tomorrow morning.”  She looks grief stricken at this but slowly nods, accepting defeat.  I give the cable company my phone number and tell her that I will come and knock when they have arrived.  She again offers me the money but I tell her no, that’s she’s my neighbor and we part ways at that time.  The guy calls the next morning and I tell him that she doesn’t talk so he isn’t walking into the situation blind like I was.  Get it, blind.  I’m funny, I tell you.

So we grill out on the grill that night and we cook too much so I make a plate for my “new acquaintance” and walk it down to her door.  She refuses it, pointing to a hole in her throat.  I say, “You can’t eat anything?”  Sadly no.  “Ever?”  No.  Okayyyyyyy…

She’s been back since, and I’ve called the cable people again.  And I am still wondering about “Sherry”.  I mean, I know what a tracheostomy is but I never knew you couldn’t eat or talk and I have like three million questions, okay, just a couple really.  Like how did this happen, well, maybe more like Why did this happen?  And how do you get nutrients and don’t you get thirsty?  And really that’s all.  So, okay, three questions.  And the lady on the phone, the second time, says, “You don’t know your neighbor’s name or anything and you’re helping her?  You’re a good person.”.  Hmmm…no I’m not.  I’m just a neighbor.  And that three dollars, well, she keeps offering it and I’ve seen the time when that would have been taken and quickly but I’m doing okay these days and I’m thankful, incredibly thankful, that not eating dessert is a choice I can freely make and so is keeping my big mouth shut. 

Have a great day, y’all.

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