MY NEW BLOG: The Ciudadista: Life in the City

Friday, January 07, 2005

Tension at the Photocopiers

I hate encountering people arguing over things big or small in public. It just destroys your day. I especially hate it when the argument involves strangers and happen right under your nose. Yesterday afternoon was no exception.

It was Thursday about 5:30pm as I entered the stationary store. It was only thirty minutes till closing time so I proceeded immediately to the photocopy machines. There were two machines.

The first machine was about to be used by a South Asian looking woman. She was asking one of the store’s staff on how to use the copier. She had a North American accent. She was trying to photocopy a book that seemed like a textbook so I assume she is university student doing some summer courses.

Minding my own business I used the copiers like anyone would do. Insert the photocopy card, place the original documents to be copied and press the go button. Twenty copies later I thought I was done and packed my originals and copies to my bag. I wanted to do more copies of my ID and passport but I thought the old lady that was behind me might want to use the machine. I believe she went to another section of the store so I decided to do one more round of copying. (This stationary store is quite far from where I live.) When I inserted my card again I heard the old lady say that she thought I was finished I said my apologies and promised to let her use the machine. As I was repacking my bag I heard the following exchange (close to the exact words spoken):

Old lady: “Are you copying a book?”

Student: “Yes, do you have a problem with it?”

Old lady: “I think that’s against copyright law.”

Student: “This is not a New Zealand book. Do you want to use this machine because I can let you if you want to.”

Old lady: “As a citizen (of New Zealand) I am telling you what is right.”

Student: “You know there’s so much in the world to worry about than this. Please mind your own business.”

Their voices were getting loud and my heart was beating fast. I am not used to people fighting over the silliest things. As much as I want to know of the outcome I do not like to hear pointless arguments so I headed to the pens section any section just to get away from the unpleasant exchange. Probably the a store employee tried to settle the situation, I do not know.

Even at the back of the store I still heard the furious voice of the student. She said something like, “just because I am a foreigner you can’t tell me what to do…”

I went to the envelopes shelf and found out that 25 pack envelopes were on special for only 49 cents. As I went to the checkout I saw the two women quietly using the copiers. After paying I rushed out of the store.