questions of definition

On Friday afternoon I stopped by a camera store in the Cambridgeside Galleria to ask a few questions. The girl who worked there seemed lost and a little worried. I wondered whether it was my questions that did it, or something else entirely. In any case, I had an objective and I didn't plan on being deterred. Like any good salesman she tried to anticipate the answer I wanted and make suggestions for alternatives when she couldn't tell me yes--but she didn't want to be pushy. I appreciate that. I felt bad for her. Stocks were low, they were dealing with companies which didn't produce the supply to match demand. "Sorry I can't help you," she said, and I thanked her for answering my questions.

On Friday evening I allowed myself to be maneuvered into a quiet conversation with the friend I was seeing at the bar. She stepped outside for a smoke, and I offered to join her. We sat on the curb and watched the occasional cars driving by and smoked and she started asking me questions. She had an objective in mind--trying to pin me down somewhere. I avoided the questions, sometimes deftly, sometimes clumsily. She grew increasingly frustrated, though she tried hard not to show it. Eventually she demanded a straight answer for once, and I shrugged and said, "Sorry I can't help you." When she finished her cigarette she opted to head home rather than return inside. Before she left she thanked me for picking up her tab. I finished my cigarette alone and went back inside to pretend nothing had happened.

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