carter mcdowell williams was a disgusting person .
one day, after cleaning his apartment to remove the traces of his recent disgusting behavior, he was walking down the stairs when he encountered the building superintendent.
the building superintendent was a fellow named bill, and carter had up to this point found him to be agreeably able to mind his own business.
“good morning, mister williams, “ bill greeted carter.
did the fellow want something? carter merely nodded.
“do you mind if i ask you a question?” bill continued.
i surely do, thought carter, but he answered evenly enough, “what is the question?”
“has your wi-fi been giving you any problems?”
wi-fi? that was something to do with computers, was it not? “i don’t have any wi-fi, thank you.”
“but of course you do! didn’t you see the memo i sent around last year? the whole building has wi-fi and has for over a year.”
carter was not sure how to respond. “i do not have a computer, so it is - it is not relevant to me.”
“oh.” bill looked mildly bewildered. “oh yeah, i think you mentioned that before.” he gave carter a big smile. “well, sorry to bother you. have a nice day.” and he stood aside to let carter pass.
“have a nice day.” carter detested the phrase, but he had learned to use it.
carter continued down the five flights of stairs to the street. outside, the day was bright and sunny, but did little to lighten his mood.
carter never went anywhere without a destination, and his destination was the large supermarket on the corner of the next block.
how he hated the supermarket, and how he missed the good old days when one did business face to face with an honest tradesman, or at least one whose honesty one could then judge for oneself!
entering the supermarket, carter availed himself of one of the horrible brightly colored plastic baskets and headed for the produce department, to select some ingredients for a salad.
carter had for some time been subsisting on fruit and vegetables, not out of any namby-pamby vegetarianism but because it was no longer possible to find a decent cut of real beef.
suddenly he heard a voice behind him.
carter did not turn around. although he was naturally suspicious of his fellow humans, and acutely sensitive of what he took to be their instinctive contempt and revulsion for him, he had learned to be cautious in his reaction to perceived insults or accusations.
more than once in his younger days he had blundered into uncomfortable situations when he had reacted to something either intended jokingly or harmlessly, or not addressed to him at all.
then he heard easy laughter behind him. as he leaned over to inspect an almost acceptable looking cucumber, he stole a glance behind himself and saw a trio of youthful humans of indeterminate sex laughing and punching each other on the forearms.
it was obvious that “that’s him!” had referred to some interchange of sensibilities among themselves, and nothing to do with him.
carter did not breathe a sigh of relief. he was too old a hand for that. instead he deposited the cucumber in his red plastic basket and calmly moved a few feet away to inspect the lettuce.
did he need to buy salad dressing? he had completely forgotten to check before he had left his apartment.
he decided to buy some dressing if it were on sale, otherwise to take his chances.
immersed in his calculations, carter was unaware of the young man standing to the left of the prepared salads section, who was eyeing him intently.