The Train to D.C.


I knew a woman—we can call her Jill—whose husband couldn’t cope. She had to travel by herself from D.C. to New York City to take care of a particular situation.

When you spent time with Jill, you started to wish that she would take care of your problems too, although you also wished you would have the decency not to impose on her good nature.

Jill’s mother-in-law had been living with her son, who was, of course, Jill’s brother-in-law. The brother-in-law was a drug addict—or, rather, had been, since at the time Jill made the trip from D.C., he had died in his back bedroom in his mother’s apartment

The mother of Jill’s husband was totally demented, so she hadn’t noticed that her drug-addict son had died. It was the neighbors who suspected—two weeks later, because of the smell—that something had happened in the apartment of Jill’s mother-in-law and brother-in-law.

Since Jill’s husband had never been able to deal with his mother’s situation or his brother’s, he couldn’t cope with these developments either. So Jill had to take the train from D.C. to New York City to take care of the whole mess.

I’ve always hoped that on the train back to D.C., Jill decided it was the last time she would manage other people’s problems.



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