“I’m new to town and I can’t always remember when I step into a room what I went there for. So excuse me, I came into your business to drop off a package for UPS pickup—am I in the right place?”

I was sure I’d seen the FedEx and UPS logos on the exterior south-facing windows before I entered the west-facing door. Now all I could see were wickless candles (??) to the left and remote-control airplanes to the right. And I was being thoroughly sniffed by a black and white collie-ish dog. It was confusing. I just wanted to pet the dog.

But alas, Craig, Colorado is not a simple place. Known as the elk-hunting capital of the world — it’s massive coal-fired electricity generator is hard to miss south of town.

A lovely woman with professional makeup greeted me with a smile, acknowledging the beauty of the dog before she ducked into a side room and answered the phone “Farmer’s Insurance.”

A man with thinning hair, moved from behind his counter to discuss the wicklessness of the candles on display and to eye the box I carried.

“They’re supposed to be good for three years,” he said, trying hard to be interested.

“Good for what?” I thought.

We wondered where they were made, as they appeared to be very carefully handcrafted, had “Made in USA” labels, but no specific address. I thought, “these look fun to make.”

He had accepted my package while I pondered, recognizing the prepaid UPS shipping label, and informed me with utmost politesse, that I “would want my receipt with tracking number.”

Indeed, I explored the thought. What if Dishnet charged me for the cordless modem that I was returning?

“You don’t actually light them,” the man tried to explain. They were just waxy smelly things.

“oh.”

We exhausted the candle subject and I moved toward the door. I wished I had more to ask him but I sensed I was just wasting his time.

My other errand took me to Radio Shack-slash-Art Supply Mecca-slash-Office Supply Walmart. This place, known as “Jackson’s” is staffed by a bright woman with medium-length I’m gonna guess Henna-ed hair who knows as much as anyone anywhere about anything office supply. The first time I entered the store, she told me casually not to mind the vicious-looking German Shepherd/yellow lab (guessing again here) cross who sensed that I was actually a walking raw hamburger. Fortunately I like dogs but I could tell Henna didn’t want me to approach the beast.

Henna told me about each of the three printers the store had on display then waved me to the wall of modem cords (Jackson’s is the place to go for old weird computer cords but not dishnet modem cords.)

The next time I entered the store a man who looked about 18 (with a Scottish first name of extraordinary beauty that I will massacre if I try to spell) not only printed my four-page document from my flashdrive but then faxed it to California after I signed it, sold me the printer, cartridges … and didn’t even try to sell me a ream of paper to go with it.

He was wearing an Argentine soccer shirt so our conversation naturally revealed that my father and his mother had grown up in the same southern hemisphere country. His mom the daughter of missionaries, my father the son of a geologist.

Grant Johnson photo

About halfway home I realized that I had no paper.

Ah good. A reason to go back.

Craig’s list?

No thanks.

Update: I returned to Jackson’s three days later to buy paper. Argentina saw me through the door … by the time I entered he had from a secret drawer procured my forgotten flashdrive, identified only by the purple worn-out hair tie on which it dangled.