It was only s’posed to be a quick trip.
Just in and out and back home for more of the Twilight Zone marathon.
But I’d finally had enough-a the signal cutting out and it was time to get a new connector cable that didn’t black out the image every 15 seconds. I swear it was like I was tryin’ to watch a crisp beautiful painting on a flip-book.
So I figure enough is enough and I’ve got a job with a little expendable income for some of the small pleasures. After the old man figures out he’s got all the time in the world for his books, I throw on some slacks and a blue work polo (it’s the only shirt not stained with pizza sauce or nacho cheese within reach) an’ head out to the nearest neighborhood electronics store.
Walkin’ into the place, I was greeted with that smell o’ new plastic and shipping boxes. The noise from those stereos, TVs, and computers created a kinda hum that makes you feel like a baby again. I bee-lined it to the audio-video section, hopin’ I could get back home before those pig-faced doctors tell the hot broad that she looks like she was beaten with an ugly stick.
I found the cables and started comparing ‘em. The three foot long one was all I needed, but the 20 foot one was only five bucks more. Way longer than I’d need, but what if I wanted to mount the big screen up high on the wall? Or over the bed on the ceilin’? I’d never get up for a weekend again. Nah, I tell myself. I’ll make do with the three footer.
I turned to head back to the cashier when, I swear, the prettiest girl I’d ever seen turns the corner and meets eyes with me. I’m telling ya, she smiled so big like the Fourth of July at the sight o’ me.
“Well, hello there,” I say.
“You!” she says. “Oh I’m so glad I ran into you!”
Now I’m rackin’ my brain tryin’ to figure if I know this girl. Nothing’s coming to mind.
“Yeah,” I say. “Me too.”
She giggles and it’s like little angels singin’. I’m smitten but I’m trying hard to play it cool.
“What’s uh… what’s going on?” I say, trying not to let on that I can’t place her.
“I uh, I wanted to ask you something,” she says.
“Shoot. I’m all ears,” I say. I leaned up against the rack and knock a couple o’ USB cables off their hooks. I caught a couple, but three more clattered to the floor. But I ain’t even bothered because there’s that little laugh of hers again.
“Well, if you’re not too busy, maybe you can uh, follow me?” she says.
Now I’m dyin’ to see where this goes so I drop the cables in my hand and indicate for her to lead the way.
She starts heading toward the door and, I swear, I’m thinking this might be one of them hidden camera shows. There’s no way a girl this cute would just lead me away. I’m not even thinking of the Twilight Zone at all at this point.
Right before we reach the doors, she pulls a sharp left, heading down the computer printer aisle. She stops immediately in front of a huge display of ink.
“Okay,” she says. “I’ve been looking all over town for ink and my printer is model EX-3615. But anywhere I go, there’s only EX-3610 or EX-3620. Never anything in-between. Should I just buy one of them and hope that it fits in my printer? Or should I buy both? Is there a return policy if it does’t fit in the printer? Does the warrant void if the box is open? And if so, is there a discount buy-back program with the store?”
I stood there with my mouth open. What do I know about printers? Well a little I guess. I use one from time to time at the shop, but the accountants handle the ink.
“I’m sorry,” I say. “I don’t think I can help you there.”
Her little smile faded away and my heart sank.
“Well, could you help me find another one of your associates? Or your manager?” she asked.
“Manager? Look, I dunno what you think but…” I trailed off, looking down at myself.
The blue work shirt. I look around us and I see it for the first time. The employees walkin’ the customers around, wearin’ their blue polo shirts, tryin’ to sell them on the bigger flat screens, the louder stereos, the computers with more memory and speed.
“What was that?” she asked.
I looked back at her.
“Sorry,” I say. “These printers, they always get me a little riled up. So confusin’. Let me take a look… Ah, there, you see there on the back of the 3610? In the fine print it says its certified to work on all models rangin’ from 3610 to 3619. So that includes your 3615.”
She looked at the box and that smile of hers returned.
“Oh, thank you. Thank you so much! That explains a lot.”
“It’s my pleasure,” I say.
She turned to walk to the checkout and I started fantasizin’ ‘bout seen’ her again. Maybe I could make this a weekly thing, I think. Show up here an’ start helping’ a few folks on my time off. You know, get to know my fellow man without a paycheck. Outta the goodness of my heart. This could be a new chapter for me.
“Excuse me,” I hear behind me. Someone was tappin’ my shoulder.
I turn to look and I’m face-to-face with a pimply, teenage kid.
“Yeah?” I say.
“What’s the difference between an ink jet and laser jet and which would be better for printing concert flyers?” he asks.
“How the heck should I know? I don’t work here,” I say, “Beat it, kid!”