August 4th, 2013

Berthold Run

The Quest to be Useful

I needed a good reason to do something outside the apartment today. I wanted to take it easy, nap and read, maybe at most get some groceries, but generally keep the day low-impact. Maybe not even put on deodorant, that level of low-impact.

Fortuitously, that made me available to help a friend, Sonia. (She's one of the people I joined when helping Dawn and Patrick move back in June.) I went online and saw she'd posted on Facebook: she'd left her phone behind at [ONE BAR], which wouldn't open until an hour after she'd start her shift at [ANOTHER BAR ], and could someone she knows get it for her?

I'm trustworthy enough to do that! Plus I'm capable!

I let Sonia know I could. She thanked me and sent me a direct message with a description of the phone. OK, that meant I'd need to be presentable...

Shower, clothes, food, and a basic shopping list compiled in my head, and then I got going. Plenty early, to have time to do other stuff while out and about... go to the library for wifi. My initial plan: read a book while watching this: the video compilation of what turned out to be the epic xkcd comic "Time." As this article explains, what started as a deceptively simple story of two people on a shore building a sand castle changed images once an hour...for months, until 3,099 images had gone by and an entire, much larger than you'd expect story had been told.

I wound up so wrapped up in the near-hypnotic film that I gave up on reading and spent 40-plus minutes just watching. It's worth it.

Soon before 3:00, when my first destination bar would be open, I left the library -- though not before watching the Jay-Z performance art piece "Picasso Baby" -- and hit the road. I don't think Portland has any combo library-bars (THOUGH IT SHOULD), so the library wasn't my destination. I reached the bar, and quickly got the phone: the woman opening the place knew what I was talking about. I described it to be on the safe side. I can't rely on looking trustworthy, I have to be trustworthy.

I went back to the car, holding Sonia's phone very carefully. I worried about dropping it down a sewer grate.

I made a beeline to the next bar, the one where Sonia works, considering what I'd do next but wanting to get the phone delivered ASAP. Good priority. I reached the place, asked for her, found her, gave her the phone and hugged her. "This is like my arm," she said.

And having been useful, I could do whatever after that.

"Whatever" almost included driving up ot Janzten Beach Shopping Center, to see the extensive work up there -- almost completely rebuilding the mall -- but traffic deterred me. I got off the freeway instead. What followed was a little more internet time at another county library, then more driving, because I'd grown into the mood to drive. East on N and NE Killingsworth, all the way past the airport and I-205 and to the merge with NE Sandy; over to 162nd to head south; down to SE Division; over to SE 82nd, because Dad wasn't in the car and wouldn't be annoyed by the road*; a stop at an ATM, where I got some of my money (only $20: "portion control," I told myself), cheap dinner at a McDonald's, then finally, finally, the groceries. Paid for in exact change, which was rather satisfying.

I liked being useful. I'll try to keep that up.

* Dad earned, ahem, a non-fondness for 82nd when he grew up in Portland. At least once since I moved to Oregon I ran an errand for Dad on that road specifically because it was that road; he didn't want to go there.