An old woman started working in my office building around this time last year. She wears the same khaki sweater everyday, and the same green felt pants. The kind that easily attracts lint and fur. When people greet her good morning, she nods her head and goes about her business without uttering a word.
Well, this woman knocked on my office door shortly after I noticed her working in my building. I open the door and say, “hello” with an open face smiled.
Without hesitation, or any expression on her part, she starts hitting me repeatedly on top of my head with a rolled up newspaper.
“Hey! W-what are you doing that for?”
She continued to hit me over the head with the newspaper, ignoring my question.
“What did I do? Is there a reason why you’re hitting me?”
The woman stopped hitting me and quickly scampered up the stairs and out of site.
“What the hell was that about?”
I hesitantly sat back down at my desk. “Seriously lady?” I smoothed my hair after having it disheveled and felt confused for the remainder of the day.
The next day I walked into my office building and the old woman scuttled up to me and started hitting me again on top my head with a rolled up newspaper.
“What’s the meaning of this?”
The receptionist behind the desk shrugs her shoulders.
“Seriously, why are you doing this?”
The woman’s strikes were equally spaced out like a metronome. Her face looked stern and determined. At least three minutes went by while I stood there receiving a beating and asking her the same question only in different variations, “why are you doing this?” Or, “I don’t understand, what did I do?”
The receptionist starts laughing. I guess from an outsiders view, the situation was comical. The bashing didn’t hurt, it only messed up my hair and annoyed me.
“If you don’t stop I’m going to call the cops.”
This made the receptionist laugh even louder. The angrier I became, the more absurd things got.
I ran down the stairs, down the hall, and into my office. The old woman couldn’t keep up and it looked like she struggled going down the stairs. I felt sorry for her in a way. Sorry that she wasn’t able to keep hitting me on the head with a rolled up newspaper.
I heard a knock on my office door minutes later.
“Go away!” I shout.
“Is this the massage room? I have a 12 o’clock appointment.” A meek voice on the other side announced.
“Oh, I’m so sorry.” I opened the door and explained the situation. She too thought it was funny.
“But I don’t know anything about the woman. She doesn’t talk or explain herself. Every time she see’s me, she starts whacking me over the head with a rolled up newspaper.
Again, the client laughs.
Once I completed my work day, I stepped out of my office and the old woman was there waiting for me. And once again, she beat me over the head with a rolled up newspaper.
It went on like this for months. She used the same newspaper, which became ratty and papers often flew from it. There wasn’t much of it left.
I grew angrier with each passing day until I reached a breaking point and I pushed her down outside my office building after work. She wasn’t surprised, angry, or upset in any way. She merely accepted it as if it was part of her job of hitting me over the head with a newspaper.
She had trouble getting up. I felt bad for her. She was just a mortal old woman after all. I bent down and helped her up and as soon as she was back on her feet, she started pelting me again with the newspaper.
I ran to my car and the old woman tried to keep up, but slipped on some ice. She laid on the pavement for a few moments looking like an upturned turtle flailing her arms and legs about. It was her second spill in less than two minutes. I walked over to her and helped her up. I made sure she was okay. Once she was back on her feet, she started hitting me again with the newspaper. I didn’t mind her hitting me because that meant she was okay.
As long as she was able to hit me, I knew she was okay, and so I let her hit me. I grew to gain relief and satisfaction over it. I resigned myself to it. And I became increasingly troubled knowing that it would’t last forever. That this old woman, who went out of her way to whack me over the head with a newspaper every day, would pass on. Or even worse, the newspaper would lose its last page.
I wondered which would come first; her passing on, or the newspaper losing its last page. I pondered which would be worse.
If she died before the newspaper lost its last page, she would die happy. However, if she died after she was no longer able to hit me properly with the same newspaper, she would die miserable.
The thought overwhelms and saddens me. I try not to think about it.