I leave my newspaper on the table outside as I dart inside the coffee shop to get more sugar. When I return, three seconds later, a middle-aged woman is walking briskly across the street, holding my newspaper in her hand.
Hey, I shout fairly amicably, I was not finished with my paper.
She turns around and throws the paper on the table near me.
I don’t want your stupid paper, she says. What would I do with it? I am legally blind.
Fact is that she is wearing unusually thick glasses. Point well taken. What do I know?
I drive into an unevenly paved parking lot behind a woman in a big van. When she makes a right-hand turn, I spot a blue handicapped sticker on her windshield. Just as she is about to place her van in the reserved handicapped space, her engine stops. After several useless attempts to re-start it, she steps out of the vehicle and starts pushing.
I am a real sweetheart and also an old-fashioned nice manly man so, my first reflex is to get out and to give her a hand. I abstain because I soon judge her efforts to be fruitless. She is pushing that heavy van up a significant bump. I think there is no way the two of us can vanquish gravity and place the van in its spot.
Then, the woman braces herself; the back of her dress rises and her big calves become like hard river stones; she harrumphs once and the van ends up perfectly parked in the handicapped spot. I learned another lesson: Don’t judge a book by its cover, or even by its title.
Speaking of parking makes me think of the last time I went to the DMV. I only wanted a copy of a trailer permit for which I had duly paid. As is normal, I am in a bad mood much before I reach there. Less logically, my irritation grows as I advance up the line. The employee to whose window I am directed is a plump young Latina with a fairly pleasant face
I explain my request. She goes tick, tick, tick on her computer and, quickly enough, she hands me the copy I want.
It’s $16.75, she says.
I explode. That’s ridiculous, I say. That fee for a simple copy is an abuse of power. I changed my mind; I don’t want it anymore. Keep it.
Well, I will just have to give it to you, says the DMV employee with a big sweet smile.
I practically fall on my butt in the midst of dozens of pissed-off customers.
I guess I don’t know everything about women, as I often think I do, just most things.
[Editor's note: this essay first appeared on Dr. Delacroix's blog, Facts Matter, on June 15th 2012]