But not until we’d got all the computer stuff out of the way: a meeting of creative people, possibly Krita users, at our house. When I was walking outside afterwards, still full of bounce and inspiration, a small man in a wheelchair stopped me and asked if I could tutor a girl in maths. I considered that maths wasn’t my strongest subject but I’d tutored before –in languages– so I asked “what age girl and what level?” His thirteen-year-old daughter, in the first year of high school in one of the lower streams, so I thought I could probably manage.
At that point I realised that I didn’t know the going rate so I came half-awake and contemplated going downstairs to look it up, but fell asleep completely again before I could. Like walking away from a film and coming back after a couple of minutes, the narrative had gone on without me: now the man had a meter-long piece of 1980s harmonica-paper matrix printout with lots of information about me already filled in, it only needed checking some checkboxes. If he hadn’t been in a wheelchair I’d have asked if I could hold the paper for him, because it was really too long for comfort, but I didn’t know if that would insult him so I left him to struggle with it.
He kept asking me questions and checking boxes, making me more and more uncomfortable. All of it was about my preferences for food, entertainment, etcetera. It took quite some time before I could bring myself to ask “what about your daughter’s maths lessons, how is all of this even relevant?” Though I love surveys in waking life I do prefer to take them anonymously, and this was getting much too close.