Friday, August 11, 2006

When She Says, "Let's Go."

She's got a problem.

Woman: How late are you open?
Tata: Until just before 8.
Woman: I bought an owl clock earlier and it's broken. When it reaches 4:20 it won't go any further.
Tata: Oh dear.
Woman: There's another on the wall. Can I exchange it?
Tata: Sure. I'll be here!

The identical clock doesn't have a battery. I toss the place and don't find one, but my counterpart at the toy store has one. She snaps it in place. We watch the clock tick. We spin the hands. Time flies. Across the street, a woman parks a car. "Here she comes," I tell my counterpart, Ellen.

The woman walks across the street. We're standing on the sidewalk.

Tata: Hello!
Woman: I'm here to exchange this clock. I bought it here. Do you think they'll give me a hard time?
Tata: They're pretty nice but nothing to write home about.
Woman: See? The clock is pretty but it doesn't work.

She takes the clock out of the box. It does not have a battery but the problem is no longer mysterious. Ellen sees it too. We both smile and speak slowly.

Tata: Here, have this one.
Ellen: We tested it. It went from 4:21 to 6:30 without a fight.
Woman: Did this one come from the wall?
Tata: It did! We put a battery in it and listen to it tick!
Ellen: We think you'll be happy with it.
Tata: Here, take it. Can I have that one?
Woman: Thank you.
Tata: Please come back soon!

She hesitates, then goes. We smile. We wave. We smile. We wave some more. Then I straighten the minute hand and put the owl back on the wall.

And speaking of stuff, everyone has too much of it except for people who don't have enough. Nobody needs a collection of Judith Krantz novels - nobody. Just like yesterday, all you need is a grocery bag to do Good and make the world a better place. Walk around your house and fill that bag with books you'll never read again. Everyone who has books has books he or she will never read again, don't kid yourself. Once the bag is filled, you have a decision to make.

Lots of places want books, depending on what kind. Hospitals always want novels and children's books. Nursing homes want books. Daycare centers want children's books. Adult correctional facilities often want books, but you should check with officials. The university I work for has a program that sends books to Africa. A walk through the phone book will offer you a lot of choices. The senior center may want books or your public library may want to have a fundraising book sale. Give your books to them. You get space for peace and quiet and the knowledge that you've used your magical powers for Good. While you're there, ask them what else they need. Maybe you have that lying around, too!


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