Sunday, October 6, 2013

Almost Fiction



(from Beverly Hills Stories)

- Where are you going?
- To the library. Come along.
- What are you going to do there?
- Use the internet. 
- What happened to your computer?
- Don't you remember? I broke it. Third computer I broke in 3 years. 
- Do they let you use their computers?
- Well, that's a story. I went in, showed my expired Beverly Hills Library card. They asked for a gas bill, phone bill, house deed, birth certificate...
- Birth certificate?
- I'm exaggerating. Hanging over the reception desk was a huge sign: "Customer Service". You know how I subject everyone I meet to whatever I reading, so I said,
- I'm not your customer. Customers and merchants deal in an exchange economy. Pay this now, receive that now. Each tries to get the best deal out of the other, customers try to pay as little as possible and get as much as possible, merchants try to provide as little as possible and be paid the most possible. Customers and merchants are enemies. In the days before the world was taken over by business school graduates libraries had patrons. Patrons entrust gifts to an organization which later distributes gifts to the public, a relation between friends rather than enemies, a gift rather than exchange economy.
- If you want to renew your card you'll have to present proof of residence.
- You said that. Aren't you listening? The people of Beverly Hills have entrusted the library with the gift of their money and yet the library distrusts its "customers", assumes they are professional thieves and they want to steal five books and sell them for 25 cents each if they're lucky and work hard.
- How did you get the card you have?
- I asked for it.
- What proof of Beverly Hills residence did you show?
- I don't remember. My arrogance?
- What would you like to do at the library?
- Use the internet.
- To use the internet you don't need a card. See the service representative at the computers.
- Can I help you?
- The robots over there under the customer service sign sent me here.
- Why?
- To talk to another robot?
- Are you calling me a robot? I don't like being called a robot.
- I understand. If you really are a robot you can't help acting like one.
- Do you want me to call security and have you escorted out?
- The world is full of places to be throw out of and this is only the second time this week it's been offered.
.- Why shouldn't I have you thrown out?
- Why don't you just let me use the computers?
- You can. Read this screen. You can read?
- No. I came to the library to learn. Can you read?
- Yes.
- Read me what's it says on the screen.
- It says to use the computer you have to make a one dollar deposit. Do you have one dollar?
- No. Why else come here and have to deal with -  not robots, don't worry, but something a lot like them at customer service?
- If you just want to use the computers go back to reception...
- You mean customer service.
- Whatever. And ask for a computer card.
- They gave it to you?
- Yes. Here's what I'm going to type into the internet.
- Read it to me.
- You and me are talking. You speak first.
- What did you do today?
- Thought a little about you.
- What?
- The way you give away money. What you expected from it.
- I take care of the people in my life.
- I meant the people on the streets.
- I've stopped.
- I know. But I'm still thinking about it. Your real estate speculator friend says you did it to feel powerful, you suffered from a kind of megalomania.
- Let him think what he wants.
- Your motto is, "Think For Yourself, Act For Others". You don't concern yourself with whether the practical things you do for others changes their thinking. You don't want to change anyone's thinking.
- Maybe I did. But if I changed anyone, it was just one person.
- You acted for others, you gave help expecting nothing in return, directly or indirectly, neither in an exchange economy nor a gift economy.
- Gifts come from God. It wasn't in my hands.