The bag lady barged into Starbucks and deposited her load at the first table she came to. She sat in one chair for a minute or so before deciding something was wrong. She got up and examined the chair critically, rocking it back and forth. She sat back down but was still not happy. She got up, rocked the chair a couple more times, and then slid it back and forth for good measure before sitting down again. It was still no good. She repeated the procedure with the three other chairs with no satisfaction and then walked around the table several times studying the furniture with hard determination. The four chairs were then pulled out from the table. She rocked each in turn a few times before deciding to switch their positions, as if rotating tires on a car. She sat down only briefly before rocking and rotating the chairs another time. And then another.
"Will you please just sit down?" Beth screamed to herself.
Beth had been watching from the other end of the room. She had turned off her iPod and her coffee had gone untouched, so distracting was the performance with the chairs. Other customers sat closer to the action, but somehow were able to ignore it. Beth wondered how, as it was making her very tense. Now the lady was fussing with her bags, stuffing smaller ones inside larger in an attempt to consolidate the pile. That did seem to serve a purpose -- at least she had stopped messing with the furniture. One small package was was brought up onto the table and its contents emptied: French fries from a fast-food restaurant -- something about the way they fell out of the bag suggested they were not exactly fresh. The bag lady contemplated them scattered on the table top, but made no move to gather them up. She sat motionless for at least five minutes -- just staring at the fries. Nearby customers continued to ignore her. Then she got up from her chair. Beth feared another round of furniture adjustments, but instead, the bag lady went over to the service counter to grab a couple of napkins. On returning, she rocked her chair a couple more times just to be sure and then walked purposefully towards the restrooms. She emerged shortly afterward looking visibly freshened up. Her long dark hair had been brushed and she looked wider awake, as though she had splashed cold water on her face. She sat down as a relatively normal, functional person and proceeded to eat the fries.