If People Lived Like Me

I went to the store today, not because I really needed anything, but because I had to drive my car. I did get a few essentials at the store, as well as a few non-essential (but healthy, or rather healthier) snacks, such as dried apricots and coconut chips.

The most difficult part about going shopping nowadays is to figure out what hat goes with a white surgical mask. I finally decided that a simple straw fedora with a black edging around the brim wouldn’t look too silly. I’m sure it wouldn’t matter if I didn’t wear a mask — none of the store employees would say anything, particularly since the check-out clerks are the only ones who wear them. And since a mask is for their protection, not mine — and since I know for a fact I don’t have The Bob (it’s impossible to catch something when you’re not around people) — it’s sort of silly, but then, wearing it for ten minutes a week isn’t going to kill me.

A friend stopped by last night with a gift of beets and he wore a mask, but by the time I opened the door barefaced, it was too late for me to run to get a mask. (Which, now that I think of it, came from him in the first place.)

Other than donning a mask for my infrequent forays out of my hermitage, my life really hasn’t changed much during the past couple of months, and I doubt it will change when everything is open again. I never did buy much more than essentials, anyway. Hardly ever went to a restaurant. Never went to a bar. Seldom went to any sort of gathering. Probably the only thing I’d do different is have someone over for tea.

I used to think the world would be a vastly different place if people lived like me, and now that they are (except for driving newer cars), it doesn’t seem any different. But then, it’s hard to know if things are different since I am among people so seldom.

I have liked driving to the local stores, though, rather than walking or going to a bigger store in a bigger town. (I take a short drive out into the country first because I don’t think it’s good to drive less than a mile, particularly since I only go out every five or six days.) Every time I drive around here, I get to have a conversation about my car, which is nice. And it’s good, I think, for people to associate me with the bug in case of roadside emergencies or some such.

So that was my day. How was yours?

PS: If you have a good recipe for fresh beets, let me know. Thank you!


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.


My Beach Front Property

I left Alice, Texas feeling great. I’d had a good night’s sleep and the whole day stretched ahead of me to get my oil changed and the valves adjusted.

I headed directly to the VW dealer that offered an express oil change lane, they ushered me into line, and then my momentum crashed to a halt. Although those VW aficionados loved my car (even the office workers sneaked a peak at the great-looking classic) not a single mechanic knew how to adjust the valves. Some didn’t even know what they were (one fellow wanted to send me to a tire dealer for valve stems). The only folks who knew what needed to be done were suits, and though I cajoled, they didn’t want to get their hands dirty, not even for old time’s sake. They did, however, make numerous phone calls and tracked down a mechanic who only worked on air-cooled VWs. He had bad knees, so while we waited for his younger employee to come into work (and while we waited for the engine to cool) I visited with his wife, who worked as his office manager.

Apparently the lure of my lovely car was too much, because he adjusted the valves himself and gave the car a good going over. He thought everything looked great, was working smoothly (except that the valves had become too tight, which is why the engine got hot enough to vapor lock). He even took the time to clean my windshield and fill my tires.

And then I was on my way to Padre Island. What can I say? Ocean (well, gulf). Beachfront property. Walks on the beach. Private bird tour. New friend. (Spent most of the day talking to a woman from Colorado who pretty much lived on tbe road. Instant sisterhood.)

I paid for two nights, and then this morning paid for two more. The humidity is the highest I’ve ever experienced. Any higher, it would be called rain. And the wind is constant. (Last night I kept waking up when my tent hit me in the face because it was laid almost flat in the wind) but the tent held up. There was so much moisture on my bug this morning that I took the opportunity to clean the car. (Had no need for a hose. A soon as I wiped off the first layer of dirt/water, another layer of water appeared.

I didn’t want anyone to worry about me (and I didn’t want the car to rust after too much non-use), so I drove to town today where I found a cell signal.

I’ll be leaving Padre island on Saturday morning and will head for Austin. I will be meeting a dear friend for the first time, and I plan to get a motel room for the night so I look presentable.

But now? Ho hum. Back to Paradise.


(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)