Monday, April 18, 2011

My Mother Told Me Never To Give Rides To Strangers

It is the home stretch for my master’s thesis, which is why I haven't posted anything for a week. I have become a regular at the Kinko’s in my neighborhood because the printer on my desk would explode if I forced it to regurgitate the same 150 pages every other day. I am hopeless at math, especially calculating percentages and averages, which means I am probably spending twice as much money at Kinko’s. I can’t be sure. I’m half convinced they line those tiny ink cartridges with diamonds for as much as they cost.  
The other reason I am obsessed with copying is that the helpful people at Kinko’s will take all 150 pages that I copied and put a spiral binding on it. I have never written a book before, watching it come together like a real life, turn the pages, kind of entity is almost too much. I make them put the binding on the book every single time.
Yesterday I printed out what I hope to be the last copy before I send my thesis off to the head of my master’s program, and all other higher powers in the Humanities department. I didn’t realize Kinko’s closed at 6pm on Sunday. I didn’t realize it was Sunday. I should have, considering I had been serving bloody mary’s and mimosa’s all morning. At 5:59pm the last 50 pages were spitting out of the copy machine, I went up to the guy at the counter and pleaded with him to put the binding on my book, even though I knew he was allowed to kick me out and lock the doors. He shrugged, said that it would probably be ok, and I was so happy again.
There is a lot of quiet time while you are the only person at Kinko’s. I stood at the counter while he punched the tiny set of holes in the side, section by section. I looked at their assortment of candies and chips, studied their pen selection, considered purchasing a bubble insulated manila envelope. And then the guy is done punching the holes, he comes over to the counter and makes small talk while he winds the spiral plastic through each hole. He tells me it’s no big deal I’m making him stay late because he’s taking a different bus, it doesn’t come until later. I ask him where he’s going. He says Ballard. Oh, I am going to Ballard. . . And then I something very odd comes out of my mouth. . . Does he want a ride?
I think the fumes of the printer ink must have been getting too me. And he almost said no, and I was almost ok with that. But, I waited for him to close the shop, and as soon as he got in my car he said: My mother told me never to take rides from strangers. And I answered: My mother told me never to give rides to strangers. We agreed never to tell our mothers.
The ride was uneventful, if not even a little pleasant. The conversation wasn't awkward. He was just a nice guy who needed a ride. Every once in a while it feels kind of good to do a favor for a stranger, just like he kept the store open a few extra minutes for me. I’m not saying that I’ll ever do it again. In fact, don’t ask me for a ride, because that may have filled my generosity quota for a long time.

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