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Cleaning off a desk full of notes

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Posted: Tuesday, March 6, 2018 3:00 pm

Occasionally, I clean off my desk. It has to be done at some point but at the same time, everything still “there” means something – even three months later. 

When I jotted the note down on whatever was blank, it seemed important. The note might become a story. Or a column. These notes, however, didn’t make the cut for some reason.

Here’s one. It’s written on the back of a Shell Gas Card receipt: “pedestrian button.”

This refers to my habit of walking to Local Goods for coffee and having to confront the pedestrian button at the intersection. I don’t need to name the streets. If you don’t know this button, you either don’t walk downtown Elgin or you are an out-state-subscriber. 

It’s easy to understand people by the way they react to the button. There’s people, like me, who still believe the button stops everything else and allows us to proceed. 

A second group is comprised of people who don’t push the button at all. Instead, they time the traffic and score high on food service trucks. 

There’s a third group. They wait. It makes me wonder if they know something I don’t? Are the rest of us breaking the law? There has to be a reason they wait for that long. One man I see most mornings will wait the duration. If the government banned cars, he would still wait. The only motivation I can see for his patience is that he is on Pedestrian Button Probation. 

There’s no button on either side of the railroad tracks between Depot and Central. They use something bigger and louder. It’s highly effective. If something like a railroad crossing was across the street from Local Goods, I’d probably respect it. The irony is, when a train crosses Main, by the museum and the Chamber, it stops all traffic. Nothing moves. 

Last Thursday, I crossed the street between a bus and a Kenworth and thought nothing of it.

I’m saving this note, though, because I’d still like to know who sets the timing on the pedestrian button and who sends the trains.

The second note I noticed was on the inside of a matchbook. It read, “Elgin IL.”  There is a reason this note exists. Everyone at the newspaper has taken a call from someone who lives, or once lived, in Elgin, IL. 

Usually, at least on the calls I take, it’s one of two things. The person either wants information about submitting an obituary or they want to place a classified ad. It always ends the same way. We immediately recognize the accent, of course, and ask the caller if they intended upon calling Texas. We explain there’s two Elgins. They are pronounced differently because it distinguishes the two without having to think of a new town name. We are the hard “g.” 

I’ll save the note about Elgin because we spoke with so many people, we think of some of them as friends and know their weather. Don’t let this get outside of Texas, but people speak funny in Elgin, IL. 

I also have notes on cottonseed oil, “buildings Hurricane Harvey blew up” – “Morris” is written on the back of a business card from The Owl and all I can remember is he doesn’t work there. 

I can’t, though, throw away these notes. It’s not a great system and I suspect somebody will suggest I file everything. 

My problem with filing, however, is it’s tougher than one thinks. 

For instance, where would you put Morris?

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