Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hog but Don't Read

I was in town today on business, and stopped to eat at a fast food joint. (No, not the fast food joint that also sells firewood.) At this place they provide a copy of the daily paper from the big city, and I sometimes borrow the paper to read while I'm eating, if someone else hasn't borrowed it already.

But today, just like last time, I saw someone had already gotten to the paper before I did. Same person both times, a grey haired lady who's probably not far into retirement. Today she was there with her husband, last time she was there with some friends. And both times she had that newspaper lying folded beside her on the table. Both times she made not even the slightest pretense of reading the paper.

Yes, today, just like last time, she had picked up the fast food joint's copy of the newspaper and taken it to the table with her, where she left it lying unread while she talked, laughed, joked, engaged in incessant conversation, and did anything but read the paper.

So why then was she hogging the paper, if she had no intention of reading it?

I can think of various explanations which would reflect poorly on her. But let's be charitable: perhaps she was hogging but not reading that paper in order to ensure that nobody had an advantage over anyone else. After all, if she'd borrowed the paper and actually read it, she would've had an advantage over the rest of us; and if she'd left the paper for someone else to borrow and read, then that person would've had an advantage over her. However by borrowing the paper but not reading it, she was ensuring that everyone else had just as little access to the paper as she herself.

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