Crazy people everywhere you look

This morning I checked out a new office supply store in a shopping center near our house. I use the phrase "office supply store" loosely here, because this is more the kind of place that sells some office supplies, sure, like notebooks and pens and staplers. But also millions of Hallmark cards and stuffed animals and totally weird stuff, like, you know, a plant or two. Just so much inventory that I'm pretty sure the place doesn't have a chance in Hell of surviving more than a few months, but still, good luck to them. The store did have good prices and so I stocked up on several reporter-style notebooks. I figure now that I'm out interviewing people and all, trying to make a go of this lifestyle, I should have places to write down what they say and not keep using really old notebooks that are falling apart, and contain to-do lists from, like 2002, such as "To do today: 1) get a job 2) make more glycerin soap for Christmas presents 3) have coffee 4) plan party Friday 5) buy tequila."

People should not be forced to view my private life like that, I thought, and using those notebooks provides just that opportunity to arise. Plus, people might see that stuff and think, I don't know, that I'm lazy. And an alcoholic.

And I've found, too, that interviewing people and using the back of the MapQuest directions I printed out the other day to take notes might make people think that I don't think what they have to say is all that important.

So I gathered up several notebooks and grabbed a package of pens while I was at it, because I heard the store owner telling a customer, "Did you see our pens? Our wall of pens? We have the most pens at the best price IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. That's our claim to fame."

I'm pretty sure that's not true because this store is about 60 million times smaller than Office Depot and Staples and places like that, and have you seen how many pens those guys have? But anyway, I bought some because I thought it would make him feel good. It didn't really matter though - making him feel good - because, as I found when I walked up to pay - the man was pretty much nuts, anyway. He asked me how I was doing, like a normal person, and I said, "Fine," and I asked him how he was doing, and he said "not so good" because he was having trouble with his computer, and that was ok, but quite honestly I just thought he and I were going to perform the "Fine"/"Fine" method of greeting each other and I hate it when someone asks you how you're doing just so you'll ask them how they're doing so they can then regale with you stories about how they're doing. It's kind of like when you come back to work after a weekend and your coworker asks what you did this weekend and you tell them and then they're just about to explode because you know perfectly well they really REALLY want to tell you what THEY did. And usually it's something not that great. Like that they painted their living room baby blue or something like that.

Anyway, since we were getting into it, I decided to add that I could, in fact, "use some more coffee," which in my opinion is a pretty normal thing to say early in the morning - you yawn a little, maybe start to stretch - and people usually nod, and laugh and say, "Me too!" and it's really heartwarming, but this guy, instead, screamed "Coffee is BAD!" And since I was starting to sense that I didn't want to get in any deeper than I had to, instead of the obvious, "Why?" answered back, "No it isn't, it's great." To which he replied, "It's bad," and I replied, "It's great." I was seriously getting ready to add a punchy little, "Take that, punk," when he looked at me, his natural morning energy radiating behind his blue eyes, and said, "I haven't had a drop of coffee in my life," and I realized I was arguing with a guy who owns an office supply store and thinks it has the biggest pen selection in the world and sells Hello Kitty pencil holders and wind-up toys, and what's more, he'd never even tried coffee because someone had obviously told him it was "evil" or something, and I decided to let it go and get out of the store before he invited me to stay for lunch and tell me what he'd done over the weekend.