Diary of a Marked Woman

Diary of a Marked Woman

Paris, September 2005


It's been a long time since I complained of the harassment by the various merchants I have to deal with when I shop for food, fabric (essentially) or other items on occasion, but alas, it doesn't mean that the harassment has stopped Lately I noticed a variant: people being exceedingly nice, as if the Harasser-in-chief had run out of ideas, and was forced to resort to exaggerated niceness to keep harassing me and let me know that no matter what I'm doing, I'm not alone. For instance at the end of September, the pizza delivery boy refused my tip even though I was asking him to take down the big garbage bag full of empty pizza boxes: when I asked him for the favor and handed him the three dollar tip like I've been doing every time I asked for the same favor, he gave me a big smile, said "certainly Madam" took the bag and stepped back without taking the tip.

Sat. the 3rd: I had to go out of the nabe to buy some cotton yarn for my crochet projects: I had a large filet-crochet doily a little past the half-way stage waiting for a fresh supply of white cotton. I also needed some thread to match the two colors of a Hawaiian appliqué I was just starting, and also some food. So around 2 PM I hobbled downstairs on my crutches and went to the TRoto fabric store for the thread. There's a rack of embroidery thread and the hue I was looking for, a shade of purple, was at the very bottom. So to avoid having my butt sticking out in the alley I parked myself parallel to the rack, leaned my crutches against it behind me and bent forward looking for my shade. I wasn't very satisfied with what I found and when I finally stood up straight there was a woman pretending to look for thread at the exact spot where my crutches were leaning. I said "Oh, sorry, Madam!" and she walked immediately out of the store. This was the second time it occurred. The previous time was with a younger woman who speaks Spanish. Dang! Got me again! And no sooner had the woman walked away when I felt something pass over my foot and saw a girl about ten years old walk away pulling a two-wheel shopping caddy. She had simply run over my foot with one of the wheels. I looked at her in disbelief. Her face was completely devoid of expression. I exclaimed that what she did was very impolite and took the line for the cash register behind two women. The one just ahead of me was exceedingly nice, said something like she was very concerned about my well-being and let me pass ahead of her but then I saw a rack of sewing thread and thought that I might find there a hue closer to the one I was looking for so I left the line and told the woman to go ahead. So I leaned my crutches behind me and stood in front of the rack and found the right shade, and since I was going to use this thread I had to buy the same quality for the other color, a vanilla yellow, and while I was at it two people behind me fussed with my crutches as if they had almost upset them but not quite.

Now I walked to the bus stop to go buy the cotton yarn at Phildar on the rue Monge, a ten minutes ride. The woman who was there waiting complained about the rotten weather we'd had during the month of August so I said that after hearing so much about climate change I considered myself lucky when the weather was grey and the temperature bearable. And just as the bus came, a car stopped right in front of the bus shelter so the bus had to stop behind it and me and the woman had to walk to board the bus. I had to ask a young woman to give me her seat because nobody spontaneously offered it to me. Then a woman about my age showed an exagerated concern for my well-being, asked where I was going, and when the bus reached my stop she talked to the driver about me, saying "she gets off here" or something similar. I thanked her. It was only later that I realized she had been exceedingly nice.

When I was done buying two kinds of yarn and two crochets, the woman said she was going to open the door for me and just then a bus stopped right in front of her door, and not at the bus stop a few feet before the store, then it left but anyway I didn't intend to take it because I wanted to stay in the nabe for a while. I crossed the street and sat a the terrace of a café but there was something wrong with the chair. I looked and saw that some horizontal part that was supposed to hold the four feet was not connercting with the front left foot. So I got up and exchanged the chair for a good one without making a single step, as these rattan chairs are very light and can be carried at arm-length. When I told the waiter about it he asked if the chair was badly broken or just a little, then he set it at the table next to me and a moment later a woman asked if she could sit at that table and I told her about the chair..

I had myself a beer while going through an interesting book catalog I had ordered and picked up in my mailbox before leaving, then I paid the 3.10 euros. The waiter gave me 7 euros change, which was ten cents too many, but since he had been such a creep with the broken chair I didn't bother and left it at that.

There was a couple at the bus stop when I got there. The man got up from the bench, while the woman, wearing a head-scarf and eating a falafel sandwich remained seated... and when she was finished eating she walked away with the man! When the bus came I asked the driver to get someone to leave me a seat so he spoke to the public and a black man got up. Before we arrived at Place d'Italie the driver announced that he was not going any further and people who wanted to continue on the route had to take another bus. A lot of people got up and stood near the back door and once we got at the bus stop the door didn't open. So they said "La porte!" but still it remained closed. Finally the driver said it was a false alarm and he was continuing on the route so people regained their seat. Meanwhile an old lady had taken the one I had been sitting on, so I got another seat.

Then I went to Monoprix to shop for food and took the line that said "delivery only" because...

The week before I had taken the line that said just "delivery" and had a row with the woman ahead of me because she had just an eye-pencil to pay for and obviously she was not having it delivered. She had replied that the sign didn't say "delivery only and there was no sign saying that it was forbidden to people who didn't get a delivery so she had a right to take that line. I said that there was a line for "ten items or less" so why didn't she take that one? She said that she took the shortest line so what was my problem? I was really angry and said that it was because of people like her that fascist laws were passed, because people like her abused their freedom. She remained calm and gave me her turn and she even helped me put my things on the conveyor belt, which was fine because I was very tired. She didn't express any feelings and her face remained blank the whole time the exchange had lasted, even when I was angry, so it was obvious that she was acting a script that consisted of being disrespectful first to get me upset and then when I was angry to help me to make me feel guilty, but the script had not taken into account how she should react to my display of anger. After I had paid I thanked her.

So now I was careful to take the "delivery only" line and, lo and behold, two women together ahead of me with just a few toiletries, and ahead of them another person with five items at the most! The two women, dressed like decent "bourgeoises", one old the other middle-aged, were talking and the younger one remarked that they were in the wro,ng line but they stayed. Later when they reached the head of the conveyor belt, they read the sigh, in addition to the big one hanging above the cash register, that said "delivery only" but still they remained in the line. So after they had paid I asked the cashier why she allowed people who were not getting deliveries to take that line. She said that she couldn' help it if people didn't obey the rules. I was very angry. I spoke to the woman at the reception desk who declined to take responsibility. I asked if she didn't enforce the rules who was supposed to enforce them? She asked if I had an invalid certificate. I said the store didn't give me one (I was told delivery was free for permanent invalids but not for temporary ones. She said I was supposed to get an invalid certificate from the COTOREP. Ah! This old dear COTOREP that my mom wanted me to get a certificate from when I returned form the US, on the grounds that I was disabled!.

Ah, but you see, in order to get a certificate of disability, you first need your doctor to do some paperwork so you can be examined by the government doctor who will decide whether or not you are permanently disabled, and what percentage of your functionality you have lost. So if you can't get a doctor in the first place, you can't get the COTOREP thing. But anyway, what business was it of hers whether I was permanently or temporarily disabled? I was not even asking for free delivery, all I was asking for was for the rules to be followed so I would not have to wait in line on one foot and my crutches behind people who were in the wrong line. So she said "well, the cashier is not going to remain with her arms crossed doing nothing, what do you think?" so that was her excuse for allowing people in the wrong line. But since me and the people behind me had been waiting with full shopping carts in the delivery only line, her argument was no good. Finally I asked her for the name of the personnel manager. She said it was the new director and wrote his name and phone number.

Fri. the 9th: In the morning I made an appointment with a building contractor to come and see the water damage that occurred last december, so that he would make an estimate for the repairs, estimate which I was to forward to my insurance co. for approval, as per their instructions. Having never dealt with insurance companies, I am a total novice and had to ask on two different occasions how to proceed because the first time it didn't register. There's so much on my mind already, you know... So appointment was made for Tuesday the 13th.

Before leaving around 3PM for my weekly food-shopping trip I called Mme Galas at Monoprix and explained to her that I'm walking on crutches because of a leg injury and I don't get much help from the staff. I said that I need my purchases delivered even if they don't amount to a lot of money because some items like paper towels are light but voluminous, other items like potatoes are cheap but heavy, so I absolutely need my purchases delivered. I asked what is the minimum amount for delivery, because it used to be fifty euros, then it went up to seventy-five and I don't always buy that amount's worth. The lady said that if one pays for the delivery, the amount of purchase is irrelevant. Oh! Really! This is not what I was told. I was never told that if I was willing to pay, the amount didn't matter. I NEVER tried to get the delivery for free. What matters to me is that I can't carry my stuff myself so why have the cashier and reception personnel given me a hard time when my bill was under 75 euros, unwilling to make an "exception" even when they saw I'm walking on crutches and even when I didn't ask for the delivery to bee free of charge? So they've been giving me a hard time for the fun of it, and for no other reason, this bunch of sadists!

I told the woman that there were two women ahead of me in the "delivery only" line last week, and they only had a few items and when I complained to the receptionist she didn't want to take responsibility and since it's painful for me to stand for a long time I was very disappointed at the attitude of the staff. "I'm not the kind of person who elbows her way around and I rather rely on people's sense of propriety" I said, "so that seeing I'm injured they'll have the delicateness to let me pass ahead of them. But I was wrong and I'd like you to do something for me so I can get checked out without waiting in line for ten minutes." "Call me when you get at the store and I'll come down" she said. So I asked the receptionist to call her. The receptionist said that she was on the phone, so I said to tell Mrs Galas that I was in the store and do what was necessary to facilitate my check-out, and then I started shopping. I always buy a lot of tomatoes, zucchini, green bell peppers, onions, garlic with which I make the ratatouille that is my staple diet. With this I eat rice or potatoes. I also bought grapes that are in season now, delicious and cheap (1.50 euro per kilo) and green Guyot pears which ripen just by the time I need them in mid-week. Very cheap at 1 euro per kilo.

In the cookies aisle a woman with just a two-pack of paper towels passed me by. Since the paper towels are further on the circuit between the entrance and the check-outs, she had retraced her steps just to pass near me. In this manner I was being informed that my earlier phone conversation where I mentioned paper towels had been eavesdropped on.

Later I saw the receptionist in the store so I asked her if she had talked to Mrs Galas to make it easy for me to check out. She replied that yes, she had, and that if nobody was in line I would be allowed to check out promptly. I said "Oh, thank you!" but in fact what she had said was not implying any special favor due to my disability. She had said "if nobody is ahead of you". But since it was before 5 PM the store was almost empty and I didn't have to wait at all, except that the cashier, an Algerian woman I think, with long brown curly hair and turquoise eye shadow, the same one who had laughed when I was upset last time, didn't start right away to scan my purchases so that they accumulated on the conveyor belt. I had to ask her why she was not processing my things before she got going.

I requested the delivery to be made within ninety minutes at the earliest, which gave me time to go buy batting fort my Hawaiian quilt at Toto's and have a cold one at an outdoor café. So I bought my batting and in the main part of the store saw some 100 percent linen in a shade of taupe and in a "tired" looking light-blue I really liked. Meanwhile an oddly-dressed woman near me was looking at nothing in particular. I made up my mind to buy some of the blue and taupe linen and no sooner had I got a saleswoman's attention than the oddly dressed woman cut in without so much as an excuse-me and, acting as if I didn't exist, started talking with the saleswoman who answered her likewise, as if I didn't exist So I said to the woman "Really, Madam, what you are doing is incredibly impolite! I don't know where you've been reared but cutting in a conversation like this just isn't done, all the more since you can see I'm injured and uncomfortable standing on my feet." As soon as I started protesting the saleswoman who had been explaining where the other Toto store was stopped speaking, grabbed the two bolts of linen I had shown her and walked to the cutting table. She was normally polite with me now. Afterwards the oddly-dressed woman apologized but I said nothing in reply.

About 45 minutes after I was back home there was a knock on the door but after opening the door I saw right away that the several shopping bags on the floor were not mine because the one closest to me contained a pack of paper towels, which I knew I hadn't bought. The tall black man in front of me said "Uh, this is not for you, right? I think there's been a mistake. I should call." So I said "Go ahead". He didn't move. "What's wrong? You don't have a cell phone?" I asked. "Yes, I do have one but there are no units left on it" Stupid answer if you ask me. So I said "Use my phone then" and started in to fetch my cordless phone but on the way I realized that the guy had to take the stuff downstairs anyway, call or no call, so I turned around. I was tired and it was painful to walk and he was making me walk for nothing. He said somebody else would come within a half hour.

After he left I called the store. I was furious. I said that they had not harassed me at the store because there had been no chance, so now they were harassing me with the delivery. I knew I was right because of the pack of paper towels the guy had brought to my door with the other bags. The phone lady said she was so sorry, there had been a mistake, and they would give me a bottle of Champagne for my inconvenience. She added that the man had just left and would be at my door within ten to fifteen minutes. The guy who came knocked on the left door but I heard him anyway, and I know that I had written RIGHT on the delivery slip. I asked him to take down a big garbage bag full of paper wrapping and empty pizza boxes and gave him the usual 2 euro tip plus one for the garbage.

In the evening I ordered a pizza delivered. Instead of the usual thirty minutes, the lady at the store called me qfter twenty minutes to say there would be a twenty minutes delay I said "But it won't be hot anymore!" I said. She guaranteed that it would still be hot. Fifty five minutes after I had called to order the delivery man showed up at my door. I said I didn't want the pizza but took the menu that had rebate coupons on it and I called the Domino pizza store again, this time with a different order and a code for the 2 euro rebate. This time the delivery was within thirty minutes.

Tues. the 20th: I've had a few insights lately, regarding the Sept. 9 incident at Toto's fabric store, and another dental incident ten years ago. So I'll start with the Toto incident insight:

It wasn't the first time this trick was played on me. I remember having a similar experience at the crafts department at the Samaritaine store last summer or fall, where I talked to a young saleswoman about some embroidery fabric I was looking for, and she helped me find it, and after I chose the color I wanted and she picked it up and walked to the cutting table with it, a man started speaking to her, asked her a question and she answered him and from then on she completely ignored me. I waited for a while speechless in disbelief and it was another saleswoman who cut the fabric for me. Naturally I was pissed off but the young woman was exceedingly polite and acting the dutiful store clerk and she made it look like there was something wrong with me!

Maybe the whole point of the exercise is to make me think I'm nuts, like I get angry for no discernible reason and the people who are acting the trick pretend to be understanding and patient. What makes me think this is because last year when the man started speaking to the woman and she was replaced by another sales clerk, the new sales clerk who was the same height, the same age and wearing the same uniform to create confusion, but a different hair color, acted as if her colleague did not exist and as if the entire incident had not happened, as if it had happened only in my imagination. But this time, when I called the impolite woman on her bad behavior, the cause of my anger was out in the open, undeniable, and that's probably why the saleswoman gave up the ploy immediately and served me with the professionalism she should never have departed from.

So Mother's still trying to make me believe I'm nuts because that's her only chance of maintaining her lily-white facade. But if I were her I wouldn't count on it, as earlier attempts have been a dismal failure. So give it up already, Mom! You bet and you lost, so what? People bet and lose all the time, so get used to it and stop all this nonsense already! Yes, you bet that you would suceed in assassinating me before I got wise to the fact that the criminal behind the rape, the torture, the multiple attempts on my life, the violation of my privacy, etc etc... the criminal is no other than you my mother. So as we used to say in the old days when I was growing up, "take off your mrsk, I know who you are!" So do it! Take it off now, there's no use in pretending you're this dutiful mother, and the reason I'm the only one not getting her inheritance is because the judge said so.THERE'S NO COURT CASE! THERE'S NO JUDGE! THERE'S NO JUDGMENT! SO STOP YOUR NONSENSE NOW! The truth is that you were so sure I would not be alive that you didn't count me in the inheritance. So why should I go looking far and wide for a culprit when the motive of the crime is staring me in the face? Last September 14 was the fifteenth anniversary of my father's death and you keep insulting my intelligence with these lame excuses. I'm tired of living in this hovel, with no heating, no hot water, flimsy plastic on the floor, bad windows, bad electricity, moving boxes for furniture with a New York address on them. I need money to get the place fixed! I don't want to live another winter without heat and hot water. What's the matter with you? You're scared to death, that's what.

Now about the dental incident ten years ago:
In 1995 or 96, a dentist named Meena Shah, whose Manhattan office is on Columbus and 94th, made me a new bridge on my upper right side when what I was asking for was a new bridge on the upper LEFT. It's only ten years later that I got the answer to that one: she did this to cover-up a previous dentist's misdeed where he deliberately made a defective crown for a canine tooth (third from the front) so that it fell off... so she explained the need to make a new five-element bridge that included this canine by saying that there was "bone loss" in the area surrounding that tooth's root, which created a risk that it would become dislodged. Everything a woman loves to hear. So, she went on, if she made a bridge that included that tooth, it would be held in place by the other four. But she never explained why there was a need to re-do the other four which were not causing me any trouble. Well, a dentist can lie through her teeth, if I daresay, and show her client a little speck on the X-ray and call it "bone loss" and the client is none the wiser. I know I had had trouble with this canine several times and saw several dentists about it, and the last one I saw before Dr. Shah took the post out saying there was something wrong with it and I suspected he wanted to make the evidence disappear so when I got up to leave at the end of the session I pocketed the post. He was going to throw it out anyway. It was not stealing! And I had paid for it anyway. So methinks, all dentists warning each other about me in the neighborhood, Dr Shah came up with this idea and bamboozled me and I ended up five grand the poorer with a new bridge on the wrong side, and the broken tooth on my left side still there. A horrible trick she did to me was to leave a piece of hard matter in a wound inside my gum, which evolved into a gum boil. Anybody ever had a gum boil? I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. But this is not all. She gave me a prescription for a generic codein painkiller which did not do anything at all, so I was in horrible pain for several days (there was a week-end) until I got a prescription for Tylenol with codein. (And since then I've never accepted a generic drug). Allright.

In addition, she would never tell me how much this work was going to cost. Every time I came I asked her for an estimate, and she always had an excuse not to give me an answer. And for some reason I always paid her in cash, and at almost every visit I brought her a few hundred dollars, and to make it faster to count, I exchanged at the teller's the twenties for hundreds, and when I gave the hundreds to Dr. Shah she had the audacity to check with a special marker whether they were real or fake. I felt so humiliated and insulted. I told her I had just gotten them from the bank but she did this every time. So she was horrid. BUT...

It was because I went to her office that I understood the real cause of all my tooth problems, because it was there that I saw a cut-away drawing of a young child in profile, showing his rootless baby-teeth and inside the gum, just under the baby-teeth, the germs of the adult teeth that were just waiting to come out. And it was because I saw this drawing every time I was reclining in the chair that it finally dawned on me... that what Dr Capron was doing when I went to his office with Mom when I was three or four years old, was to reach and bore into the germs of my adult teeth and deposit a tiny piece of organic matter (I suppose) that would rot inside the tooth and cause it to decay from inside.

And this crime, like so many others, bears the trademark of untraceability which is my mother's signature. Had I died prematurely like I was "supposed to" by my mother, I would never have found out of course and she would have gone on living her life with the secret knowledge that she had got away with an unspeakable crime, and the victim being now dead -thanks to her- would never find out the truth. I wonder, what kind of mental and emotional landscape must be the one of a criminal who enjoys a deception so monumental, committing horrendous crimes against her child while receiving the approval of the community for the persona she displays of a catholic housewife, mother of seven children.. This is what I have realized the past few days.

So while Dr Shah was performing her lefthanded legerdemain to fool me about the loose canine, she was at the same time giving me the solution to a much bigger mystery. And this is another example of how the truth comes out from the perpetrator in person. So Freud was right when he said that "We ooze self-betrayal from every pore". And it is because of my faith in this natural process that I never lost hope. I know that the bad elements will in the end be moved by a force greater than themselves to self-eliminate because it serves an evolutionary purpose and is hard-wired in the human being.

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