I spent the morning at the library researching my project.

It was an irritating morning, as it turned out, because

the librarian would not allow me to use the photocopier.

“Sir, this is for staff use only,” the librarian said.

“There’s a coin-operated one on the third floor for use

by the public, but this photocopier is for staff only.”

I told the librarian that Oscar Berg always let me

use this machine — that it never posed a problem before.

The librarian said, “Then Mr. Berg is breaking the rules.”

Mr. Berg was a lovely and helpful, nervous little guy.


Paraphrases from the novel Half Moon Street by Paul Theroux.