I need to put a new connector on a cable that plugs an antenna into my video camera, so I go to a place called Electronic City in Burbank. The guy there doesn’t have the correct connector but can order it for me and he finds me a crimping tool so I can connect it to the cable. The store has been around as long as I have, since 1957, and has bins of electronics parts under homemade signs. If you need an AC adapter for your telephone or a battery tester, this is the place for you.

I order the part and it only cost two dollars so I decide to go up to Frys, the big-box electronics store on Hollywood Way, to see if I can find the part there (if I end up with an extra connector no big deal; I’ll have a spare). There young men in white shirts and ties stand behind a counter where people come to buy computer boards. When I bought a TV there about 10 years ago a salesman got into a fight with another over who would get the sale. The guy who lost came up to me as I was giving the cashier my credit card and asked that I write a report about the guy who muscled him out. I obliged him though I didn’t really want to; I had just come to the place to buy a TV. Now, looking around Frys Electronics, I can’t find anything. The signage is very professional, but I don’t feel like I can ask anyone for help.

A week later, the guy from Electronic City calls and says that the part I ordered has arrived. The man comes out and gives me a little baggie with the connector, which comes in three parts. I have no idea how to put the parts together and there aren’t any instructions. If you go to Electronic City you’re supposed to know what you’re doing. I don’t. I ask the man to help me figure it out. He looks at the connector and tells me that he has never terminated with anything like that before. Terminated: I like the word. I tell the man maybe I can terminate it myself if I look at the old connector to see how it was terminated before. He says that that’s a good idea, and likes that I bought a second connector in case I screw up the first. As I’m about to leave, he tells me, “You’ll do fine. I’ve done a lot harder than this.” It is the nicest thing anybody has said to me all day.

I’ll do fine.

I want to do fine. I want to make the right decisions—about my son’s education, about what my role in Occupy should be. I want to be able to talk to people about making the right decision, and to learn how to terminate a cable with a BNC connector. I want to do fine, and here’s this man telling me that I will, though it’s clear that I will have to do it on my own. They are words of wisdom that could never have come from one of the commissioned clerks at Frys Electronics. They are words that you only hear at a place like Electronic City, over there on Burbank, the Boulevard of Dreams.

On my way home I stop at a surplus electronics store where I find a board with buttons on it, which I buy my son. He likes buttons. He likes pushing them. He likes pretending that they can control things they cannot. That evening I get notification that my membership to a listserv has been accepted. It makes me feel good. I have been trying to get onto it and now I am. I wake up this morning. I think of one word: community. Community is the public school where I work. Community is the public school that my special needs son goes to. Community is a listserv that invites me in. Folks who will tell me where to take my newly-terminated cable, antenna and camera, where I can go to help the most. Community is Electronic City where the clerk knows from his own experience that I will do what I need to do, a place where I will do fine.

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