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This is a litigious society. And now that I am on the litigating side, I say we are the better for it.

Before my wife stepped into a booby-trap in that megastore and splintered the fifth metatarsal of her left foot, I was more critical of trial lawyers. Now I recognize them for the sainted saviors of mankind they are.

Formerly, I rolled my eyes in agreement when a friend would say, "Whatever happened to personal responsibility?" when referring to someone collecting a wad of cash for this or that. No more. I see now that captains of industry must be brought to task when they put a citizen's life and comfort in peril.

Do you have any idea what it is like to have your wife in a nonwalking leg cast? Don't attempt to price it. I'm not referring to the discomfort that my poor wife is enduring. I'm talking about me.

I just finished dust-mopping. Monday I did the laundry. Our technological advances have eased this chore since the days of beating linens on a rock. But the intellectual challenge of deciphering dials, speeds and cycles has sapped the good out of it.

The dryer doesn't get things dry. And it destroys the elastic in your underpants. I wound up hanging half the stuff on clothes lines. Here's a tip. Carry your clothes pins in a basket with a hoop to hang over your arm. You can hold only so many in your mouth at a time, and that precludes smoking a cigar. Bless her soul, Lyn, using one of my old office chairs, is scooting around the house, casted foot in the air. But the small rollers don't get over door sills well. She has to call me for a boost. Getting to and from the second floor is a pain. She sits on the stairs and, bumping like Marley dragging his chains, lifts up and bounces down. I carry the chair.

Wednesday was Lyn's Japanese art history class. I went along as ambulance driver. She worked her precarious way down our stoop on crutches. The wheelchair got her across the ice and into the car. I put the chair in the trunk. At school, neither the cast nor the wheel chair persuaded the parking lot Nazi to give up one of his five empty handicapped spaces.

None of this, including the lovely lecture on Heian-Dynasty art, has done my sciatica any good.

Other chores are garbage day and recycle sorting. I am especially gifted at making beds lumpy. I make lumpy waffles, too. Lyn says I do both well.

Poor Lyn has to lay out my tasks for me. It's 10 times easier for her to do them herself, and 100 times easier for me when she does. Shopping for instance. She goes through all the ads and chomps at the bit to take advantage of the bargains. Then she sends me and I get to the supermarket without the discount card.

At Wegmans, a kindly lady once lent me hers. She then suggested I reciprocate with my MasterCard. In my relief, I almost fell for it. Once home, eagle-eyed Lyn noticed that a scanning error had charged me $1.89 for mushrooms advertised at $1.50.

Which reminds me, the inflated prices we paid that booby-trapped megastore financed liability insurance. Now if our attorney can persuade them to pay the real cost of Lyn's broken foot in terms of pain, inconvenience and annoyance, it would help. But can the system afford the $100 million?

LARRY BEAHAN lives in Snyder.
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