I was at Target last night looking at the iPods, and three college-age guys are looking for ping-pong balls. “They’re seasonal,” the Target employee says, while agreeing that it did not make any sense. The guys walk off, wondering where they can find the objects of their desire at nearly 10 PM on a Saturday night. Other stores are announcing closing hours as they deliberate. “Walmart?” I hear one of them say. I shiver at the thought. And since the Boulder city government wants to protect its citizens from evil (and favor the small business lobby), the nearest Walmart is twenty minutes away.
They walk off, and I realize that I might have one in my car. I tell them I might have one, as paddles have been in my car for years. They follow me to my car as they tell me about an informal tournament they’re having the next day. They need to practice. They watch the drama unfold as I rummage through a baseball helmet, softball bat, Pictionary (need to part with that), plastic practice baseballs (with holes, but not Wiffle), and finally, two ping pong paddles. The ball could not be far. Ah hah! I hold it in the lights of the Target parking lot like a precious orb and give it to them.
One guy offers to give me a dollar for it, and without any thought decline. It would not seem right. Perhaps I was paid enough, silly as this sounds, knowing that the ball is put to good use. And perhaps the thought of these guys playing ping pong on a Saturday night instead of being loud and drunk vandals who enjoy music with heavy bass. (Boulder – it’s a college town.)