I have my best writing ideas while I’m driving. Seventy miles an hour, full sunlight, no traffic. An idea will pop up like a billboard along the side of the road and I’ll follow it. Exit here.
I’m thinking about something. Maybe it’s a sad or discouraging moment in my life that my brain rolls around like the lyrics of a song I’d rather forget.
I’m on my way to the dentist, but suddenly, I can’t stop thinking about an internship I had in my last year of college.
So…I once had an internship working at an alternative high school. I absolutely adored the school and eventually the Vice Principal offered me a job. I wanted the job, but I had to turn it down because I was afraid of the copy machine.
Every time I went near the copy machine, it would spit out dozens of chopped-off half-page unusable copies. Or my original would fold into a tight ball of cud lodged somewhere deep in the bowels of the machine. Then the copy machine would blink accusative error messages while vomiting up shredded bits of paper. Another teacher would invariably come into the room and say “What did you do to the copy machine?” as though I’d kicked a puppy.
That copy machine hated me.
But it wasn’t just that copy machine. I have a thing about all copy machines. I hyperventilate in Kinko’s. I’ve always wondered if there is a DSM designation for unreasonable fear of copy machines. Maybe it’s not that specific, maybe there’s a general anxiety disorder related to all office machinery. Perhaps there are people who have an unreasonable fear of paper shredders or who find the feel and look of office dividers deeply repellent. Which would actually be a macro version of Trypophobia, or fear of holes. Anyway…
You’d think that for a dream job I’d figure out how to avoid the copy machine. Sadly, no. Teachers do an insane amount of copying. If you’ve never worked in a public school you have no idea. Here in Texas all the textbooks are chosen by people who believe that the world is 4,000 years old and Joe McCarthy had some swell ideas in the 1950s. All teachers photocopy handouts from real books.
If you made a copy machine so baroque that no on could actually understand how to work it, you could unravel society. Teachers would have to revert to teaching from textbooks. Eventually, everyone would begin to believe that cavemen and dinosaurs co-existed in the same time frame, and that global warming is not a problem that needs to be solved. Cornering the large office photocopier market could net you control of the exchange of all school-based information and subsequent world domination.
Chaos would ensue. Very slow, long term chaos, true, but chaos nonetheless. Copy machines are evil. Clearly.
By the time I realize that a photocopier conglomerate would make a great villain for an apocalyptic fantasy novel, my car is parked outside the IKEA in Round Rock, thirty miles away. Why did my car bring me to IKEA? Wasn’t there something about the dentist?