As I hold the 4×4″ carpet sample to the floor, I try my best to visualize an entire expanse of it as the power of my imagination is challenged by the habitual tapping of fingernails on a wooden armrest just a few feet from the back of my head. I’ve learned to stop asking about why the tapping occurs, because I get a different story every time. I’ve tried–as gently as I could–encouraging the cessation of the activity, but nothing has gotten through.

“Sorry about the tapping, hon. I just can’t wait to see the lottery drawing, and it’s six–now seven–minutes behind schedule. I think I got a winner this time, I can feel it.”

Okay, at least I got an apology this time.

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