Warren sighed as he extracted himself from the truck and carefully shut the door behind him. Damn thing was near rusted to pieces, and here he was driving all over creation for a typewriter ribbon. Of course, he hadn’t expected to have so much trouble actually finding the ribbon; but he’d already tried the Harpersville Office Depot, the Staples and Frederick’s Office Supply in Dillimore, and the Wal*Mart and other Office Depot in Blackwater Point, all with no luck. He was starting to worry he’d have to go up the city to find what he needed. There were over five thousand souls in Palomino Creek, and being surrounded by that many people always made Warren feel claustrophobic.
A puff of hot air hit him in the face as he passed through the sliding doors, and then he was in the air-conditioned cool of yet another store. He made his way toward the back wall, where a huge sign reading “OFFICE SUPPLIES” hung from the ceiling. Rows of computers and fax machines and other technological marvels seemed to glare at him disapprovingly as he sought out the customer service desk.
“Helpya?” muttered the bored-looking employee behind the counter. Warren tried to give him a friendly smile, but was stymied by merit of the man’s apparent unwillingness to look up from the computer in front of him. It looked like some kind of card game on there – poker, maybe, though whatever it was, Warren doubted this fellow was being employed to play it –
“Helpya?” the man repeated, interrupting Warren’s mental rambling. This time he deigned to glance up briefly before returning to the computer.
“Well, I.” Warren cleared his throat. “My Smith-Corona T34 needs a new ribbon, and –”
The employee looked up at him again, and something about the expression on his face made Warren falter. “This a joke, buddy?” he drawled. "We don’t sell beer here, and we don’t sell guns neither.”
Warren sighed, seeing the long drive to Palomino Creek ahead of him. “No, it’s a typewriter.”
“Uh huh. Got a lot of writing to do, buddy?”
“Yes,” Warren answered, brightening somewhat. Maybe he wouldn’t have to brave the big city after all…
“I got a recommendation for you, then,” the employee sneered. He pointed toward the aisle Warren had just walked through. “It’s not the nineteenth century anymore. Buy a goddamn computer.”
Warren sighed again. “Thank you anyway,” he said, and walked back out to his car. People these days, living crammed five thousand to a town, going in for all this strange new technology when they already had ways that worked just as well. He just didn’t know what the world was coming to.
Throughout most of my high school career, I did not have a computer; when it came time to write a paper, which was quite frequently in my honors English classes and not too seldom in any of the others, I had to use an electric typewriter that we’d picked up at Office Depot for a hundred bucks. It was extra-fun when we had to do a rough draft, submit it for peer evaluation, then “edit” it and bring in the final version… because while my classmates got to make their edits, print out their new versions, and go off to have fun, I got to sit down and type the entire thing over again. Good times.
These days I honestly cannot think of a good reason to stick with a typewriter instead of a computer. I guess some people really, really like the idea of having to type an entire document over just to correct a couple of typos.