Reader to Reader | Essay | Chicago Reader

Reader to Reader 

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I was looking for an open window at a Loop post office recently when I found myself competing for a spot in line with an elderly gentleman in a tan overcoat. We looked at each other, and then at the lady already buying some stamps from the clerk at Window 18. The man smiled at me, put his clenched left fist behind his back, and said, "Odd or even?"

It took a full second for my memory to wander back to elementary school, where "odd or even" meant dibs on a prime seat on the bus. I balked though. I knew a better game. "Rock Paper Scissors," I declared as an alternative.

He immediately began shaking his clenched fist. "Rock, paper, scissors," we both counted off. We both picked scissors. "Rock, paper, scissors," we counted again. This time I picked rock and he picked paper. "Paper covers rock," he said with a pleased smile, lightly placing his now open left hand over my clenched right fist, claiming his victory. He took his place in front of me and went to the clerk and mailed his package without another word.

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