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Miss Margret’s notes


February 24, 2016

Miss Margret sat quietly in her corner next to the window; across her lap was the work bag she was using as a desk. On the seat beside her was a collection of note cards, each grouped by subject, from what I could tell. Thank you cards on top of birthday cards on top of sympathy cards: six lots in all. She was looking out the train window from time to time taking in the scenery and contemplating the words she would write next. Dressed impeccably from head to toe, ready for the business of the day, she wore a pleated skirt of a royal blue that matched the blue frills of her white blouse. Her silver hair tied back in a ponytail was draped over one shoulder. I did not want to be rude enough to actually read what she was writing, but her penmanship was of the kind not taught in schools anymore.

At one point she turned to me and said, “good morning,” in a very pleasant voice that sounded so welcoming I decided to strike up a conversation. “Quite a lot of cards to write for one trip,” I said. She chuckled and smiled at me and said, “They all will be used one day, but not today. You see, I have used a computer at work for years, but if I want to communicate with someone I care about I write it down on one of these cards.” She went on to tell me she still worked five days a week in the city, at a job she loved, and the commute left little time at home to communicate with loved ones and friends. She would use the morning trains to write her note cards and would read the ones she received on the commute home. I speculated that writing is very personal and takes time to make it right. There is no spell check, no delete button. The limited space of a note card means a lot of careful thought about the words and phrases to be used. Keeping the message clear and meaningful was also very important to Miss Margret, it seemed.

She went on to tell me that, at one time, her children and grandchildren would answer her cards with emails. She smiled and looked me directly in the eye. “They would learn nothing or have nothing to cherish if I answered them in kind. The lesson is in the writing, and now I rarely get any emails, but plenty of cards.” She turned to look out the window once more and then went back to her writing.