All dialogue is approximate, and I apologize in advance to those whom I accidentally misquote and otherwise misrepresent.
So there I am at what I think of as my local organic gardening outlet Planet Natural, waiting to pay for my non-toxic weed-killer and my hemp twine, and just as the young woman behind the counter finishes with some sort of bookwork, a guy with his shirt hanging out over his shorts comes clattering down the stairs and shoves a piece of paper under her nose.
“What do you think?”
She reads, shakes her head, and hands it back. “Uh-uh.”
She’s already scooped up the papers she’d been working on, but pauses a moment to consider before filing the folder and making her answer: “It’s too–”
And I wish I could remember exactly what she said then. It wasn’t “pro-forma,” but it might have been “formulaic;” it wasn’t as predictable as “predictable,” or as dull as “dull,” and I doubt, having heard her pithy style since, that it was as wordy as “sounds like everyone else,” but that’s what it meant. “Sounds like a toothpaste ad” gets the flavor right.
“Huh,” says the guy, and weaving between tables covered with organic pesticides and fertilizers, he marches the paper across the big, wooden-walled room to another young woman (it would be a while before I got them sorted out) calling, “What do you think, Shannon?”
There’s a pause while Shannon looks at the paper. I consider suggesting that the woman behind the counter actually ring up my intended purchases, but she’s watching Shannon read. I’m not in that much of a hurry, and I’m curious to see what Shannon thinks, so I watch too.
“Like Katrina said. It’s just–not original.”
“Huh,” says the guy again. “Well, what about the second one?” He’s already halfway back through the organic obstacle course of round wooden tables to Katrina.
“I dunno, I just looked at the first one.”
She’s reaching for the paper–my potential purchases are still on the counter between us–when I lose it.
“I can’t stand this,” I announce, “let me see.” By way of excuse, I add, “I’m a writer and an editor.”
The guy looks at me with more interest and less animosity than might be expected under the circumstances, and swipes the paper back from Katrina, who has had time to announce that the second one was better. Over the next five minutes, I learn that the guy is Eric, owner of the business, that the short paragraphs on the paper are drafts for the key description that will go up on the business’s web-site, and that Eric is in need of writers for that web-site and others. He, in turn, learns that I, too, prefer the second one. He also learns my name.
“Hey,” he yells, vastly amused, “her name is Gardner!”
We agree to talk more, but not now, I say; I’m already late for an appointment.
In the end, I leave with the paper and with my twine and weed killer, but without having paid for them; because I’m late and he held me up, Eric lets me have them on credit.
He knows I’ll be back.