When print designers dream

I’m reserving a room for a one-week stay somewhere north of here. Maryland, I think, although the choice feels arbitrary and I’m having second thoughts about the trip overall. The clerk, a middle aged Indian man (red dot Indian, not woo-woo), needs $300 to hold my reservation. I produce an envelope of crisp, new twenty-dollar bills and begin to count.

“This might not be enough,” I say. Then I find a C-note among the 20’s, a peculiar bill half the size of its companions, well worn and cheaply printed on light blue paper, then a second one, light green.

Handing both bills to the clerk, I say, “They really ought to make these things bigger. They’re so easy to lose.” He agrees.

I step past the hotel desk into the adjacent branch bank lobby and say to the young Latino teller there, “I think I need to get a receipt for my room.” She seems angry — at me? — but hands me a receipt anyway. A sheet of religious greeting cards, one of them involving a tyrannosaurus rex, is clipped to the receipt. She mumbles that the cards are from her nephew, or have something to do with him anyhow. The tyrannosaurus card says “GOD” in big, black letters.

I’m about to comment on how beautifully the cards are printed, making special note of the embossing, but ask instead, “Have I done something to offend you?”

She repeats the string of obscenities that I spoke to her earlier and my blood runs cold. “Words like that would never leave my mouth,” I say. Moreover, I’m thinking, I’ve never seen you before in my life. How on earth could I have … ?


Two wire stories recently, one about a monkey in Boise and another about a colony of abandoned cats in Ethel, Louisiana. The monkey was beaten to death by 22-year-old Michael Watkins who’d broken into the Boise zoo and is now in custody. The cats, all considered friendly, were shot at close range in the eyes and rectum by unknown assailants. They were found dead or dying by the volunteers who’d been feeding them.

At the way yonder opposite end of the human behavioral spectrum is what one young Nebraska couple did for a blind kitten named Oskar, and what I daresay Oskar has done for the young Nebraska couple every day since.

More Oskar, please, less monkey killing.