Ink

Matt’s 30 day challenge for November is writing every day. I understand how this can be a challenge. I have a whole folder of drafts of blog posts that are about 80% complete. I worry too much about getting something super-polished, so what I usually end up with is some sense of an outline along with a bunch of random notes. Then I start to piece it together, but then I think of more stuff, I start to forget what the notes mean, and I abandon it. You know how Family Guy is full of cutaways to whatever random reference the creators can come up with? My brain is kind of like that. Everything reminds me of something else. It makes writing a focused post very challenging.

I’m not taking on the same challenge as Matt, but I’m trying to write more quickly and in a less-polished manner wherever I can, including in blog posts and emails, where I have an unfortunate habit of mulling things over indefinitely. Beah noted that Inbox lends itself to the faster types of emails that she’s also trying to send now. But that’s another tangent. In the spirit of writing quickly, here’s something that just happened to me.

I was in line at Office Depot buying something for my Halloween costume. The customer in front of me was surprised at the cost of printer ink. The black cartridge was $30 and the color was $60. She had a discussion with the cashier in which they were trying to figure out if the color cartridge was just one unit as the customer thought it was too big for her printer, which she noted was very inexpensive, like $20 inexpensive. I wanted to jump in and offer some unsolicited advice that she should consider buying a laser printer, and explain that yes, inkjet ink really is that expensive. A laser printer costs a little bit (but really not even a lot) more upfront, and the toner replacement isn’t any cheaper than ink, but it lasts a lot longer, doesn’t get clogged or evaporate, etc. I didn’t say anything. It felt weird that I had overheard their conversation, and I’m never sure how well unsolicited advice will be received. Instead of a challenge to write more, I should have one to speak up more. In many situations I do eventually speak up (though it often feels awkwardly late), and since I can’t immediately recall a bad experience, I suppose that it’s not all that risky. One recent conversation that I entered was at the Charlotte airport. Some passengers were wondering where Tri-Cities was, as they saw it on a sign above one of the gates. Of course my reaction was to simply Google it and get the answer, but that instinct doesn’t come so naturally to everyone. There are still people who leave questions unanswered, and, as I was reminded recently, ask for and give driving directions. I kept my knowledge of a regional airport in Tennessee to myself for about 10 excruciating minutes while the other passengers’ conversation kept revisiting where that airport might be. When I finally found a natural point for me to (pretend to) suddenly overhear them for the first time, I told them where it was. It turned out that we both had connections to the same town in Pennsylvania, and passed some time with pleasant conversation.

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