Wednesday 28 Sep 2016

Canned Air Junkie
Jennifer Flaten

Halfway through a note to a friend, I re-read what I’ve written and notice random letters and non-sense words litter my note. Okay, I’m not usually that bad of a typist. I slowly re-type a passage. Uh-oh, it is coming up all wonky.

I try a test sentence, the old keyboarding favorite “the quick brown fox, jumped over the lazy dog.” I know I typed it correctly, but what comes out resembles Latin. Huh, after a bit of investigation, which involves checking to see if I messed up my language setting on my word processing program, nothing.

I pick up the laptop and look at it. I discover the problem. The culprit is crumbs in the keyboard.

I peer into the crevices between the keys. I see what looks like a jelly donut or a pop tart. Maybe it’s both.

Okay, I occasionally enjoy a snack while working, but this is ridicules. It looks like an entire contents of a mini mart wedged between my keys. As I am trying to figure out how my keyboard turned into a mini landfill a small child strolls up, bag of chips in one greasy little hand and proceeds to ask what I am doing.

As I answer, I notice said kid is chomping on the chip. I watch large chunks of salty chip fall off the kid and into my keyboard. Well, mark that mystery solved, you may now call me Kojack.

This also explains why everything on the display looks blurry. The kids take their greasy little fingers and poke at the screen. I thought I needed new glasses.

It appears a quick trip to the office supply store for a couple of cans of compressed air and some monitor wipes is in order. After spending an inordinate amount of time playing with the spinney office chairs and pushing the buttons on the demo office equipment I locate the keyboard cleaning supplies.

I grab two cans of compressed air and head to the checkout. At the counter, the clerk asks to see my I.D., I ask why since I am paying cash. The clerk explains it is because I am buying a controlled substance. A controlled substance, air is government controlled. What? All I have is some air and a package of wipes.

She cheerfully tells me it is because you can get high from compressed air. This is news to me. Why didn’t I know this interesting fact?

How exactly do people end up finding these things out? Did some poor bastard slip while spraying his keyboard out, get a nose full of the stuff and become loopy. To prevent customers from doing something nefarious with the canned air, the company now collects their information at checkout.

I can see asking for ID if the person is buying, oh, say, a case of the stuff at one time, but two cans of air; well, it makes me wonder. I don’t think it would be a good business plan to start my compressed-air empire by buying two cans at a time.

Sigh, I’ve just come to terms with the fact I need six kinds of ID and a letter from my mother to buy cold medicine Target. I never thought I would need it at the office supply store. This makes me wonder, deeply and weirdly.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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