Wednesday, May 02, 2007


I used to volunteer at a local arts co-op, where I worked one shift a week. There was another staffer there who often came in to use one of the the computers. Over the years, he had carved a wee niche for himself making posters for local bicycle events, so he was always around, scanning his ink drawings, cleaning them up and colorizing them in Photoshop.

The thing about him was, he was easily distracted. The tiny drama which played out three or four times an evening went something like this. I would get an email from a friend with a link to a video; I would follow the link; the video would begin playing; and the bike posterer would ask "What is that?" I would reply, "I don't know yet; it's a link someone sent me..." Then he would ask, "What is that duck doing with that harmonica?" (or whatever), and by now, the video is about a third of the way through, and I haven't watched any of it, so I obviously can't tell him what it's all about, so I would pause it, and explain that I can't possibly know what it is until after I've seen it. Three or four times an evening.

So. Months of this go by, and then, one night, he and I are both there after hours. The co-op is closed, and I'm going to enjoy listening to the current episode of the new series of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. I know that if I don't give him a long, elaborate explanation of the whole thing in advance, he is certain to interrupt. This is a half-hour long episode, played in RealAudio on a Mac, there's a good chance that he'll interrupt, say, ten minutes in, and the only way for me to listen to the whole thing will be to start over from the beginning.

So I say:

"Hey, I'm going to listen to Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy, and it's a new production on the BBC with the original actors from the original series..." And I really lay it on. I tell him everything he could possibly ask. At the end of this long spiel, I say, "...and it's a half hour long, and I'd like to listen to the whole thing all the way through without any interruptions, so if you have any questions about it, ask me right now, not while I'm listening, please."

He gets a bit huffy at this, but agrees.

So I'm listening away, and I'm really into it, because I'm a geek. The story builds to its climax, I'm seeing it all in my mind's eye, and it's quite good, and I hear a odd sound:

"Psst! Psst! Dan! Hey, Dan!"

Who could that be? We're closed, it's after hours, the only people here are me and... oh yeah, him. Didn't I tell him not to interrupt? I wave him away impatiently, keeping my attention on the radio. Again comes the sound.

"Psst! PSST!"

I look at the timer on the RealPlayer -- two minutes left!


"WHAT?" I shout at him.

He replies, still whispering, "I'm going over to the store to get something to eat; do you want anything?"


"Well, you told me not to disturb you..."


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