Personal Transaction

At our hometown landmark coffee shrine — for us in Berkeley, it’s not enough to have good coffee; it has got to be a rite — we ran into an old friend. In the course of a few minutes, she tells us about the five-thousand-dollar bike she just bought. She tells us about all the money her son is making as a computer programmer (tastefully, she doesn’t name a figure). She tells us about a client who has developed a “clunky,” “hard-to-use” piece of group-collaboration software that he wants to try to sell to schools. Despite her description of the product, she thinks we ought to start using it today. A friend of our friend appears, and the friend, whom we’ve never met, starts telling us about her kids and how much money they’re making. Our friend’s friend leaves. I tell our friend that I’m going back to school to get my B.A. “Your B.A.?” she asks. “That’s ridiculous.” I tell her I found it surprisingly easy to get back into school. “Sure,” she said. “They want your money.” Then the friend’s friend, who in addition to being described as a professional Brazilian jazz flautist is also a real-estate agent, calls to say that she’s found a house that our friend must buy. Thus concluded the visit with our friend.

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