*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.*
My friend Jody is quite the strange duck.
She’s been separated from her husband for almost five years now but isn’t ready to let the idea of them go, and so she spends a lot of time lamenting the demise of their relationship and his tendency to cheat on her.
She spends most of that time lamenting to me about it in particular, because I am one of the few friends she has left who are willing to keep listening - for now.
Jody swings wildly back and forth between depression and fits of manic productivity which are usually spent cleaning her house or doing any number of crafts that she partakes in.
Sometimes, when she’s in one of her upswings, she actually wants to leave the house and do things with me.
Covid kept us from going out and enjoying things for a couple of years, but Jody has just started to really relax about going out in public, crowded places.
I was very surprised, and quite delighted, when I convinced her to come with me to a museum one afternoon.
I love going to art museums.
I love the quiet, the beauty and mystery of the pieces of work, I even love watching the people watch the art - people are just fascinating to me.
Unfortunately, people were just terrifying to Jody.
I thought she would be okay, but once we got into the museum I could tell that she was very nervous being around so many people even though the museum was a relatively open space.
At one point we were walking through a hall of small statues on pedestals and trying to pass a small group of people on our left when one of the men in that group started coughing loudly.
This scared Jody to death, and she jumped back away from him, inadvertently crashing her body into one of the pedestals, sending the little statue on top flying through the air and then it landed on the ground with a hard thunk.
I stood, stunned, my mouth hanging open, horrified of what might happen to us for breaking or damaging a statue that was over a thousand years old.
“Oh my gosh, let’s get out of here,” Jody said to me, grabbing my arm and dragging me through the hall.
“Hey! Hey!” someone called out behind us, but we were running, running as fast as Jody’s little legs would carry her through the museum, into the lobby, and out the front door.
“To the car! To the car!” She shouted as soon as we were outside, and power walked down the street to where my car was parked.
We got in the car and I just stared at her, open-mouthed.
I’d always thought Jody would have been the type to apologize profusely for this sort of faux pas, and do everything she could to rectify the situation.
Apparently, pandemics make her panic, and her instinct was to run from the coughing crowd.
What would you have done?