It’s not just men

I hate to ask for directions.

I really do.

Everyone says it’s men who hate to admit when they are lost, but with my husband and me, it’s the opposite.

I’m the one who stubbornly insists I CAN FIGURE IT OUT ON MY OWN, OKAY?!?! I HAVE A MAP!!!! even when it is obvious to him and everyone else that I am floundering in circles like an idiot.

I’m the one who says grouchily, “They probably won’t know where it is anyways! They look like morons!” when he points out likely people from whom we might ask directions.

I’m the one who declares, “No really, I know exactly where we are now. We’re almost there!” when it is blindingly apparent that we are in fact in Siberia.

It’s fun to go places with us.

I also hate asking for help in a store when I can’t find something. I mean, there are signs on every aisle saying what things are there. It should be self-explanatory where the mechanical pencils, or cake flour, or motor oil, or whatever, are located.

Recently, though, I was completely stymied at the office supply store. I was looking for carbon paper.

And for all of you who are too young to know what that is, it’s what we used to use to make a copy of something we were writing or typing, without using a copy machine or computer. Look it up.

I looked in the paper aisle. I looked in the copy-ink aisle. I looked in the writing instruments aisle. It was not there.

A store employee wearing an “ASK ME FOR HELP!” button smiled at me. I ignored her.

I went carefully through every aisle on the non-computer side of the store, until at the very back I came to the Luddite aisle.

“Aha!” I thought, as I looked at the shelves of rubber stamps, paper forms, adding machine tape, and various other implements we used to use in offices twenty-five years ago.

Another cheery-looking “ASK ME!” button-wearer passed me, and I smiled dismissively at him.

Here’s the thing: IT STILL WASN’T THERE!!!

I couldn’t believe it. They had those little stick-on circles to reinforce holes in your paper. They had paper penny rollers. They had a make-your-own-will-kit. But they did not have carbon paper.

I guess carbon paper is so “out” that NO ONE has it anymore, I thought sorrowfully. I started to leave the store.

You really should ask someone, I told myself.

I really don’t want to ask someone, I answered myself.

I steeled myself and approached a store employee. She looked about twelve years old. “There is NO WAY this girl knows what carbon paper even is,” I thought.

But I asked her, “Do you have carbon paper?” She looked at me blankly. I smiled sadly.

“Carbon paper,” she repeated, still looking at me. I prepared to walk away in defeat.

And then… “Right over here,” she said. It was by the typewriter ribbon. ON THE COMPUTER SIDE OF THE STORE.

Who knew?

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