The husband and I downsized (again) and moved from the burbs into a high-rise apartment downtown Denver. Since I don’t drive much, it’s mostly wonderful to be living in a setting where the library, museums, and shopping is within walking and shuttle distance. Mostly wonderful.
Saturday, I hoofed and shuttled to a specialty shop on the far west end and a few blocks north of the heavily beaten path known as the 16th Street Mall. Along the way, I was approached by all kinds of people asking for money and I gave money to one beggar who said he needed just 45 cents to get a hamburger. I liked his approach, so I gave him some change. On the way back I was alone, pulling my little wheeled cart for two desolate blocks which seemed strange and unsafe, until a little woman in a print dress paired with white socks and black tennis shoes appeared before me. Then, it got really strange.
“Could I have some money, ma’am?” she asked me.
“No, I’m sorry,” I told her.
She cursed me: “Go to hell, ma’am.”
I looked into her eyes, gasped, and softly breathed out: “My goodness.”
She padded away and never looked back. I know because I looked back. Several times. Her words haunted me the whole way home.
“Go to hell, ma’am.”
She haunted me during lunch, during my nap, and when I awoke. “Go to hell, ma’am.”
I let it bother me. The nerve. The gall. Talking to a complete stranger like that. Using that word: Ma’am. I’d never been so insulted in my life.