One Saturday morning, that Saturday being today, my associate Brimbie and I made our way down Seattle’s garbage-strewn University Avenue. ‘Ah, feel that sun!’ Brimbie cried, but there was not really any sun visible. ‘You’re gonna tell me you can’t feel it?’ Brimbie asked.
No, Brimbie, I couldn’t.
Along the way to our destination, which was Café Allegro, I came across a cell phone that was broken in pieces on the ground. Using my razor-sharp wits to reassemble the phone, I began answering the text messages that had piled up on it as it lay in pieces overnight on the ground. In the meantime, Brimbie and I arrived at Café Allegro, where Brimbie lay his hands on a day-old doughnut and a bagel.
‘Would you like a bagel?’ he asked me.
‘No, I would not,’ I told him.
‘Would you like a doughnut?’ he asked me.
‘No, I would not,’ I replied.
‘Why not?’ Brimbie asked.
‘I’m not hungry,’ I explained.
‘Well why,’ Brimbie asked me, refusing the let the topic drop, ‘When I buy a doughnut and offer you a bite, you often take the bite?’
‘Because then perhaps I am hungry,’ I explained.
‘But if I buy a doughnut now and offer you a bite, you’ll eat that bite,’ he reasoned. ‘So I’ll just buy you a whole one.’
‘No, Brimbie.’ I told him.
‘But I owe you $6,’ Brimbie explained, ‘And I want to make it even with you. So eat the doughnut I buy you.’
‘No Brimbie,’ I told him solemnly. ‘I prefer to wait and collect the six dollars in a form that is better than a doughnut.’
And Brimbie gnashed his teeth, angry that he could not even up his bill with me via fried junk food. You see, Brimbie owed something, and he immediately wanted to pay up; I wanted to let the debt float about a bit until I could cash in the favour in some more useful or tastier form. He wanted me to pay now; I wanted him to pay later.
On the way back to Brimbie’s, after Brimbie’s hearty breakfast (of which no bites were taken by myself or anyone else apart from Brimbie), a call was received from the owner of the cell phone, and we set up a place to meet. On meeting up and handing over the phone, the fellow ‘gave me five’ twice, for a total of ten, telling me “You’re the man!”. He then said:
“If I ever see you around again, I owe you something.”
Now why couldn’t he owe me something right then and there? How do I know if I’ll see him again? He wanted to pay later; I wanted him to pay now.
It is just these types of philosophical and psychological dilemmas that we deal with every day in life, even on a Saturday morning in Seattle.