Woman gets appliances

A few weeks ago, I woke up and routinely began to look through the news alerts and press releases in my email. I’ve been doing this every day while working at the metro desk of my paper, and usually it’s filled with arrests, traffic accidents and press releases for community events. This was a slow morning.

As I thumbed through my inbox, I ran across one with a subject line that read “Woman gets new appliances for Fourth of July.” How dumb I thought. Why would someone expect us to write about this?

My prediction was right though, it was a slow day. And when I saw my editor approach me with a copy of the release, I almost let out a quick giggle.

The release didn’t say much else. The woman lived nearby, her veteran husband had died recently, and she was getting a new stove from a local appliances distributor. She was to be presented the appliances today (scratch that, the PR called to let me know they had delivered the appliances a day early) and my editors needed 15 inches.

I know how to make chicken soup, I thought. So I grabbed my keys and headed to Sunsent Strip.

That’s where I met Maggie. And that’s when I realized that I decided on this career because you never know who you’ll get to meet.

Margaret McMahon and her husband Robert have been putting quarters into their own washing machine for the last thirteen years. Read more. 

Maggie cried twice, and I fought tears nearly half a dozen times. The article I published didn’t tell her whole story, between editing and word count and ‘who cares’s, much of what she said got lost in the shuffle.

But she talked about how she missed her husband terribly, while pointing at his ashes, which sat in a tiny Ancient-Egypt-type coffin, about the length of a barbie doll. She talked about she was with another man when she met Robert, and how he rescued her from a man who “didn’t treat her like a lady.” She talked about how she grew up in a ghetto in Philadelphia, and how it was her “own personal Vietnam.”

Maggie lives alone, and says she would like to go out sometimes. I asked her where she would like go, and she said, outside.


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