The Coworker’s Brother

I work retail, which generally involves a great deal of customer interaction. Today, however, I spent at least half of my shift in the office. Printing tags, sorting papers, conceiving and coordinating game plans, monitoring sales and cameras, answering phone calls, leaving detailed notes. All from the comfort of my not-so-comfy chair. Somewhere in the midst of the chaos that was my office time, a co-worker came in with the intent to print  a pay stub. In the time it took her to lock herself out of our system, she’d made herself a comfortable corner in my area. In the hour that followed while we waited on corporate, she proceeded to tell me a story.

Her brother had just gotten into this reading thing, she had told me, so she took him to the library. You know, the big one with all those books. He didn’t really know what to read, since he’d never done that kind of thing, so he asked the librarians what he should read. One of them, an older woman, was all excited and recommended quite a few.

Turns out, he really likes to read. He’s always up in her grill about how she needs to turn down the television so he can read. She keeps telling him she isn’t going to sacrifice her TV time for him, and he keeps leaving to find a quiet place. He’s, like, really into it. She walked into the room yesterday and he was just laying there reading. He got out of his clothes and was just sitting there in his shirt and his jeans, you know, the real comfortable clothes, and he was just reading. So she told him about me. How this girl at her workplace is writing a book, and he was like “Yeah, I’m going to write a book too.”

Now I am always excited to hear someone wants to embark on a creative endeavor, but this didn’t seem like the best idea to me. So I passed on some friendly advice. “Tell him to read some more before he decides to write.” Otherwise, it was going to end up badly.

Still, the idea that a new little writer had been born was quite exciting to me, so I proceeded with questioning. “How old is your brother?”

The question was quite exciting for me. If he was a child, I could spend the next five years imagining the nerdy prowess he’d achieve over his youth. If he was a teen, maybe I could help him achieve it quicker. The answer I got was not the one I expected:

“He’s twenty-one.”

She kept talking for a while after that, but I don’t think I heard any of it. I believe I said “uh huh” and “right” in all the appropriate places, all the while I was sitting there wondering how you could possibly go your entire life without ever discovering a love for the written word.

Today marks a sad, sad day for humanity as a whole.

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