Why Me?
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Sometimes it pays to ignore the voices coming through your door, especially if you live in an apartment building with neighbors on either side of you. When I saw what was moving in as I was leaving for work one morning, my first thought was…”that’s it – I’m doomed!”

At first, all I could see was the form of a woman, bent over a box as she dragged it towards her new dwelling place. As I rounded the corner of the hallway going towards the elevator, I happened to look back and made eye contact with “the Exorcist,” or so my mind yelled. She had angry, dark eyes, thick, penciled on brows and bright red circles on high cheekbones. A chill accompanied me into the elevator and cloaked me in its embrace for the rest of the day.

Arriving home, I made a quick salad for my dinner and was just sitting down to eat when there was a knock on the door. I opened it to look into that garish face as the mouth began to move and words of introduction spilled out.

“I am your new neighbor…” she started explaining and it took her the better part of a half hour before she had finished and I was able to go back to my salad. I was, by that time, in possession of her entire life story and a salad that lay limp with the weight of salad dressing. Dumping it into the garbage, I opted for a sandwich instead.

The next morning, she was waiting for the elevator as I walked toward her. “I know you’re a nurse…could you…?” she enquired. No “good morning”…no nothing. She launched right into her list of requests. A polite “sorry…I am unable to help” was what she got in answer. Coming home that evening, there she was. Does this woman rent the hallway? She was holding a bloodied thumb out to me and screaming that she was hemorrhaging. I asked her if she had a bandage. Why did I even open my mouth? Before I knew it, she had grabbed my arm and was pulling me down the hall towards her apartment. Inside, she showed me an arsenal of first aid equipment – bandages in every size and description, solutions, ointments. You name it, she had it! I quickly cleaned her thumb, applied a bandage and sent her off to the hospital for a Tetanus shot.

A few more episodes popped up where she needed a helping hand. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not against helping anyone, but she has decided that it was my lot in life to serve her needs above all else…not! I was finding myself looking around the corner when I got off of the elevator to be sure the coast was clear, before making a mad dash to my apartment and very quietly closing the door. This worked for a while; as well as the fact that I asked her, very politely, to LEAVE ME ALONE! There was peace on earth once again…until the fire!

The alarm woke all of the tenants out of a deep sleep. In my training, I knew it would be safe to block the door with towels to keep the smoke out and stay inside until the firefighters arrived. There was no heat, so the fire wasn’t nearby. Trick-a-treat – the name I gave my neighbor because of her clown-like makeup – was standing in the hallway, screaming and pounding on my door. She ignored my yelled instructions to go back inside her apartment, so I opened the door and yanked her into mine as the black, acrid smoke swirled through the hallway and into my lungs.

Trick-a-treat was so hysterical and wanting to leave the building that I could do nothing more than get her outside. Down the emergency steps we went…me in my tattered tee shirt and plaid boxers…In the lobby, the finest firefighters in the city were escorting the tenants out the main entrance. I asked one of them if it would have been safe to stay inside and he said that it would have been better if we did. I looked over at my nemesis and summoning all of my willpower was able to just walk away…I was that mad.

When I was finally able to return to my apartment – some two hours later – I quickly showered, washed my hair and went to work. When I got home that evening, there she was, waiting for me. How did she put it? “You saved me and now I owe you my life!” She proceeded to follow me as I turned around and went back into the elevator…”let me clean your house…what can I do for you…you must let me do something for you…” she went on and on as the doors closed on her. I leaned my head against the elevator wall, closed my eyes and sighed…arghhh…why me?

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