“Can someone help me?” I had already stuck my debit card into the money-reducing machine at Kinko’s and was in no mood to try and figure out Adobe Photoshop while on the clock.

“What do you need?” It sounded helpful enough but the look in his eyes betrayed the assistant tone. He was redheaded with bad skin and his name tag told of mediocre authority.

My least favorite kind.

You can respect real authority like policemen or a senator. But, when the only thing you’re in charge of is on your name tag, I get all rambunctious. It must have something to do with knowing the limits.

“I’m trying to print something and it keeps popping up with a window I didn’t see last time.” It’s so hard to express yourself under pressure. He’s in the middle of ignoring people and my bank account is getting smaller with every passing minute.

“Did you want to print it out on those pieces of paper.” I forgot that I’m holding some translucent paper that I’d just bought for $0.70 a page. He says “those” like I had brought a bag full of festering kitty litter into his beloved store.

“Oh. Yeah.” I think I act like I’m surprised because of how he put it. In a way, I am a little surprised, after all, they are pieces of paper and this is Kinko’s. It’s not my fault the name sounds like an East European Cathouse.

“I’m sorry but we don’t allow outside paper in our printers.” Prude. This is funny because I did this exact same thing a few days ago, I just didn’t make enough. So I tell him.

“Really? I did it a few days ago.” I try to give him a look that’s a blend of bewilderment and confidence. Like I do this all the time and a few days ago was just one of the many. I’ve never really been good at blending my looks but I always try. Blended looks tend to be more successful than regular looks.

“Really?” There’s a lot of bewilderment going on at the local Kinko’s today. “I can’t believe one of my guys would do that.” I would think that when you manage a store that’s title is so dangerously close to the word ‘kinky’ that you would be careful when throwing around phrases like ‘my guys.’

Everyone’s a madame.

I decide to be the best patron I can be and go for the alternative route. “Oh. Well, how should I do it, then?” This is said without any hint of sarcasm or challenge. I really do just want to know how to finish my project; remember I’m still being charged for every minute we talk.

“Usually people print it out on regular paper, then photocopy it onto whatever paper they bring in.” Oh. That sounds simple enough except for one thing.

“Doesn’t that make it come out kinda,” I hesitate, searching for the right words, “crappy. I mean a copy of a copy-“

“That’s not really my problem.” Oh is that fucking right? I’m sure he didn’t mean to come across quite so abrupt but I don’t have time for waffling. I hop onto his pristine white counter where he has been carefully cutting paper into squares using a myriad of right-angles. My pants are loose-fitting and easily drop around my ankles as another minute is deducted from my debit card.

A few people in the store stop what they’re doing and look at the scene I’m making.

“Um.” I guess he doesn’t know what to say as I squat over his Kinko equipment. There’s a pause because I’m a little shy but the coffee wins over and I lay a steaming pile of action onto his clippings.

The audience gasps.

I use my $0.70 a page paper for toilet paper and toss it onto the floor at his feet. He looks at the wadded stationary that rests against his shoes and then looks back at me. Standing, I buckle my pants and jump down from the counter.

His mouth closes but eventually opens again.

I’ve already retrieved my card from the money-eating machine and I’m halfway through the door.

“I wonder whose problem that is.”

“Sir, you forgot your receipt.” One of the other employees is waving a slip of white paper at me. There’s a hint of a sardonic smile on her lips.

“Give it to him,” I gesture at the soiled manager, “he could probably use some paper from inside the store.”

The greeting bells pleasantly ding as the door closes behind me.

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