Olga Waring, sixty-three years old, was sitting on the patio of the Caffeine Den on a pleasant early Monday midmorning in March in Madera, California, nursing a hot mocha for which she had just paid almost $5. There had been times in her life when she couldn’t — or wouldn’t — have spent that kind of money on a cup of coffee, but those times were past. She could afford it now. She could afford the new iPad she was caressing with her right forefinger, as well as the iPhone which sat on the table next to the iPad and her café mocha. Nine hundred dollars’ worth of electronic jewelry.
Using the iPad, which had been a Christmas present she had bought for herself, she was looking over her apps. Even though she was no longer a young woman, she had a young woman’s heart. She loved things that were new to the market, and that she heard young people talking about and saw them using. Apps (short for electronic device software applications) were still relatively new, but maybe not all that new. It was said there were more than a half million apps out there, with the number growing every day. She, for example, had a recipe app which told her how to make cinnamon rolls to die for, and another which told her how to keep from dying by losing the pounds the cinnamon rolls added to her anatomy. Thus was her life in balance. There was even an app to tell a person about all the apps that could be had — which ones were worthwhile and which were garbage. She was beginning to study that app app when she heard a familiar voice say, “Hi, Olga.”
She looked up and saw her friend, Roxanne Delacroix, a year older than she, holding a leash, on the other end of which was Roxanne’s dog, Russet. The dog was an English bulldog, about the color of a baked potato. Roxanne and Olga had grown up together in Madera, and they remembered the little city when it was even littler. If they both happened to be at the same party, and if they got a couple of glasses of wine inside them, they would often talk about how good it had been to grow up in a time when you knew your neighbors and could leave your house for the day without locking the door.
Once, at one of these parties, someone who had not grown up in Madera, and lived in Merced, asked them what was so great about going away and leaving the house unlocked...