Closer than clothes

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Laundromat bulletin board

I went to the laundromat last night after work. They've got Wi-Fi now (good!); you have to hunt down an attendant for the password (bad!); there are no power outlets so you can always be chargin' (ugly!).

A guy waiting for his clothes to dry had an Ovation acoustic guitar with him. I saw him patting his pockets down in search of a pick. I remembered seeing one at the bottom of my laundry basket, so I rooted around, found it and handed it to him. He thanked me and began to play.

I had a shaker/thunderstick in my car's trunk (because that's where all my percussion instruments have been hiding out since this summer's CampCamps), so I went and got it and played along. He was kind enough to pass the guitar off after a little while.

We made 40 cents. That would've covered seven minutes' worth of dryer time. We gave it to a man who'd walked in and was asking people for change.

What a difference a percentage point makes

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Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

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This the type of music that you make when you ’round that

The budget at the news meeting mentioned a story on the wire about the Supreme Court's consideration of a case on mandatory-minimum drug sentencing disparities that send a disproportionate share of black folks to jail. It didn't get picked for the front page, though another wire story about the reported cocaine shortage did make the paper. It's always fun to be the only black person in the room when those stories come up. I came thisclose to joking "I prefer Diet Crack," but I held my tongue.

I had my headphones on an hour later when an editor laughed loudly and clapped me on the shoulder. I turned around in my chair and took my headphones off. "What do you prefer, George?" he said. "An M4?" I was confused, but remembered a recent article in the New Yorker: "Do you mean Leicas?"

He took it in stride. "No, I wasn't talking about cameras," he said with a smile, and gestured to a reporter standing nearby. "He and I were just talking about getting a logo for the site's section, and I wondered if an M4 would work. You know, the semiautomatic rifle? I was saying George probably knows all about that."

I just-about smiled. "Actually," I said, "a laptop can do more damage than a gun these days." They both looked puzzled. "You mean, you could probably hit someone really hard in the head with one?" the reporter asked. "No," I said. "You could hack someone's bank account." Then I smiled for real, turned back to my laptop and put my earphones back on.