And You Thought You
Were Doing a Great Job
It’s easy to see how we get so annoyed with our fellow humans. After all, it’s clear that we’re constantly surrounded by a multitude of one-track minders, rude and insensitive people, specially when it comes to meeting our needs, and we’ve got this unsettling impression that the world, and its odds, are all heavily stacked against us.
Problem with such a myopic generalization is that often, we are them. Which means, it’s our sense of unbound entitlement that turns every passer by into a fiery competitor for that promotion, that seat on the train, that last piece of cake. Plus, we waste a great deal of time thinking how wonderful we’ve been for even having thought about that.
But it’s not that we’re willing to try our hand on this messy business of helping out or lending a hand, mind you, since we’re pretty sure we already are generous tippers, exquisitely well behaved in public and certainly admired by our peers for our superior emotional intelligence. Except that not even our own mothers would believe in that.
But since when we’re willing to let contradicting evidence to get in the way of us feeling so good about ourselves? That’s perhaps what’s behind the assumption that, since you’re alive, you must pursue life to the fullest, no matter what, social constraints to be damned, and I’ll sue you if I don’t get to park on my favorite spot, you fool.
It may be also what fuels the drive to survive at any cost, even when you can hardly function as a body, and long after all your sense of connection with the surrounding reality is gone. At that point, the medical establishment, for one, would be more than interested in extending your permanent oblivion, for obvious reasons. And you didn’t say otherwise on your will, when you could, anyway.
Thinking about that, we’ve published a compilation of slightly related topics, as wide and all over the place as we like them, that may help enforce the point that, well, whatever point we were making then. It was sometime ago, anyway. Let’s just hope you can relate to them too.
THINGS TO DO IN THE CITY
* Smell the Ol’ New York, Circa 1970. 190th Street Station (“Take the ‘A’ Train”), by the elevator to Fort Tryron. Feel as glorious as a crackhead may have felt in those cheery 1970s of out of control rioting and experimental lawlessness. Let the waft of a day-old dried urine awaken your adventurous personality and inebriate yourself in the pungent body odor that only someone who’s been partying on crystalmeth for over 72 hours is capable of emanating.
* Have Some Private Quality Time. West Street between Christopher and West 10 Street, after 2am. Collect your innermost thoughts in style and gather energy for another day enduring lines at the Statue of Liberty ferry or the Empire State Building by taking a walk on the wild side.
Yes, some things never change. No one will try to prevent the passionate display of affection for a stranger you may feel the urge to express at any moment’s notice.
* Write Postcards. Washington Square Park’s Public Restrooms. Get up to date with your personal correspondence comfortably seated in one of the colorful stalls. Get ideas for full sentences about longing just by consulting the excrement-laden walls. Save your saliva and dip those recently purchased old fashioned “Wish You Were Here” postcards straight into the pools of body fluids strategically placed around the bowls. No other place in the city will help you better convey your thoughts and keep them brief, which is just what your folks back home expect.
* Be Caught in a Crossfire. Bed-Stuy neighborhood, after-hours. Be at the center of the action. Witness the loud arguments, the exquisite curse usage, the ostentatious display of firepower. Have the thrill of a lifetime when someone in the crowd notices you and asks, in customary New York colloquial politeness, “What the fuck are you smiling about?” For those who made it to tell the story, even if missing a limb or two, the experience of feeling lost bullets zapping inches from your ears can be exhilarating.
* Slaughter Your Family. Inwood Hill Park, between 12 and 1 am. Perfect location to take your loved ones into their final foray. Secluded areas, plenty of soil to dig and leaves to delay the discovery of the bodies. Conveniently located paths and great variety of rocks available in different sizes and shapes, ideal to suit the demands of your plan. Isolated tree trunks and fields covered with soft layers, highly recommended for temporary body storage until a permanent spot is found and/or you’re ready for stage 2 action. Bring a change of clothing.
SIGNS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Route Changes – Ladies and gentlemen, this is your conductor. This train will make all local stops between Wittbury Bridge and Dominic Boulevard, except for 65 Street, Junction, Archers for God and 21st Ave stations. For those stops, please take the Uptown-bound #9, switch to P train and get off at Temp Place. A shuttle bus between Temp and Beachhead Straights will be running every 45 minutes. Riders in route to the Howard Hughes Memorial Airport must get off at Wittbury Bridge, walk two blocks North to Blue Willow Cemetery across Standard Ave. and take the Belvedere 40 bus, except on weekends and holidays. For weekends and holidays, you may as well walk to the airport. Thank you all for riding the ATM transit system.
Fire Drill: To: all residents of 243A. Re: Testing of Fire Alarms
The management Board wishes to inform you that the fire alarm system will be tested by Fire Marshals sometime on Friday, October 3 and Saturday, October 4. This is a reminder for you to panic during those tests. Thank you for your kind attention and understanding. The Building Manager
Bathroom Rule: All employees must wash their hands with soap after using the toilet. If you’re an employee and there’s no soap, please contact management. Please use your own cell phone. If you do not have one, carefully wrap the doorknob with paper and twist it, making sure your soiled hands are not touching it in any way. If you can’t open it, use your head and knock
on it, to call attention of someone waiting outside. If no one is around, please just wait until somebody knocks.
Swimming Lessons: You must shower before jumping in the water and after going to the bathroom. Nudity or lewdness in public areas will be punished with partial nail extraction. Please be advised that you must know how to swim to join this class and a test to evaluate your swimming abilities will be held before you enroll. By passing, you’ll sign an agreement, exempting your swimming instructor and the school of any liability or litigation. The instructor’s decisions are final. Promptness and attendance are mandatory. Swallowing excessive amounts of water, failing to come back to the surface and having difficulties breathing are of your entire responsibility. Please dive on the shallowest part of the pool at your own risk.
Personal Ads: You, brunette riding the downtown Q train last Wednesday around 3:30 pm, wearing a lovely long sleeve purple dress and an oversized yellow ribbon around your neck. Your antique hat caused an impression and I immediately fell for your enigmatic smile. Me, shaved head reading “How to Influence People and Make New Friends,” dark blue jacket and matching pants. I noticed you noticed it that. Would love to meet up over coffee or something. No pressure, but I usually hang in the late afternoon at the North corner of Washington Square, reading the paper on my favorite bench. Please stop by; there’s something about you that gave me a warm feeling and a little tingling all over. I promise you won’t regret it. Just one thing: whatever you do, please do not wear red.
Park Sign: All children running lose and unattended will be towed away and stored at owner’s expense.
Country Ways: If you say something, go all the way. If you spot a suspicious crucifix lying on a public area, contact your local authorities. Be prepared to give precise details, dates, estimated height, weight, hair or eye color of any person you have reason to believe has just found out he’s not this evening’s Lotto winner. For providing information leading to the prosecution of a crime and to qualify for a reward, you must share all personal data concerning your living conditions, including but not limited by your occupation, income bracket, destination and favorite TV program. According to the seriousness of the crime, you may be held in isolation in an undisclosed location for an unlimited amount of time.
Front Page – We published a Joe Rosenthal photograph on our cover without double-checking its provenance. The photo showing a group of U.S. Marines raising an American flag atop Mount Suribachi, in Iwo Jima, Japan, was identified as the first Stars and Stripes raised in Japan. But as it turned out, it was not and, notwithstanding the worldwide sensation it caused, we should have pointed to this fact in the caption and accompanying story. A phone call or email to the author would’ve clarified the circumstances in which the photo was taken and made sure our readers were getting the full picture about the issue.
International – We republished an article last Monday by H.L. Mencken about the history of the bathtub in the U.S. We did it without confirming the veracity of claims regarding the bathtub’s introduction into the White House and its impact on the nation’s culture. Mr. Mencken has since declared it all a hoax, but we unwittingly became his prime example of how such pranks can take hold and spread out. Due diligence was in order and the failure to act with caution caused enormous damage to our reputation as a reputable news vehicle.
Science– We published a photograph of the so-called Loch Ness monster without disclosing that it had already been debunked as a hoax. The grainy black and white picture shows the supposedly animal’s long head and neck emerging from the lake. In reality, it’s the staged photo attributed to Robert Kenneth Wilson, a surgeon, who allegedly took it of a plastic toy submarine. Once publicized, it received wide and undue attention by the world press. Our readers expect more from our performance as purveyors of trustworthy news reporting.
Arts – We reported as a fact an invasion of earth by aliens in the tri-state area, without calling our readers’ attention that it was nothing more than a radio program based on H.G. Wells’s “War of the Worlds,” produced by an aspiring actor, Orson Wells (no relation). We’re partly responsible for the widespread panic the broadcast caused in the streets of New York and New Jersey, as we failed to mention the possibility that the radio report was a staged piece of fiction.
New York– A note in the Metropolitan section about a foot and a half alligator found last Tuesday in the plumbing system of one of Midtown’s apartment buildings was misleading. Although the animal was in fact rescued, it’s in fact a pet belonging to the family living in the apartment, who calls it affectionately Mr. Big Mouth. The note implies that had it not been rescued, the wild creature was most likely heading straight to the city’s waterways. At press time, reports that Mr. Big Mouth has eaten at least one of the family’s neighbors remain unconfirmed.
Mourning – Ben Peters, from Sales, passed away while running in the Charity Corporate Challenge. He lost his balance and collided with a newsstand. Due to the seriousness of his injuries, he was euthanized by the trackside.
Following – Our company reached a milestone this week, with its 700,000th Tweeter follower. Regrettably, the site’s administrator deemed the language of the entry offensive and removed it from public view.
Activity – We’re still accepting entries for our tour of the city’s bookstores. Volunteers will transfer all Bibles to the fiction section of the bookstores. All are required to leave immediately if requested by management.
THINGS TO FORGET
The Ministry of Civility released its weekly edit, listing things to forget this week and beyond. The edit “provides fresh content to help citizens increase their share of the sanctioned future,” the ministry said.**
Beagle. The word should now only refer to the dog’s breed. It cannot be mentioned in discourses, dialogs, discussions or any other social interaction, or used by the educational system. In most contexts, Beagle now is a silent B.**
Ology (termination). The ending of most words ending with O-L_O_G_Y will be monitored and controlled by the Bureau of Learning. A limited number of permits will be allocated for using the termination.**
Superstition. Not to be used in the context of religious exchanges, except when it’s in compliance with rules for faith and beliefs established by the Organized Religion Consolidated Act (ORCA).
EAR WAX APOLOGY
– Hi, this is Diana, “the customer always comes first,” how can I help you?
– Oh, hi Diana. I was wondering whether you guys deliver? I have some prescriptions filled and…
– Oh, they’ll deliver them for you. – Yeah, but I was wondering if I could include some other stuff from the store too.
– I’m sorry, we don’t do that. You’ll have to come over and buy the items yourself. – There’s no way, eh?
– Yeah, I’m sorry. Is there anything else I can help you with?
– No, that’s fine. Thanks
– Hello, Darius speaking here, “we’re not satisfied until the customer is satisfied,” what can I do for you today?
– Hi. I bought a portable Mini MB there last week and now it doesn’t work.
– Oh, I’ll be happy to help you with that. Have you brought it over to the store?
– No, not yet, that’s why I’m calling.
– I see, you missed the deadline. In that case, you’ll have to send it over to the maker.
– Oh, but I purchased some sort of extra guarantee.
– Yeah, but as I said, you missed the deadline.
– Was I supposed to call you guys even if the thing is working fine?_
– Yeah, that’s how it works. You’ll have to ship it over with a letter explaining._
– So much for customer service, eh?
– I’m sorry. Is there anything else I can help you with today?
– No, that’s it. Thanks
– Morning, this is Mickey and we’re here to serve you. How can I help you?
– Oh, hi. I was wondering whether there’s an input for a microphone on my equipment._- Hum, let me check. How are you doing this morning? I have a manual right here. You said your model is ATII-2-XHZ or ATII-2-XHX?
– I think it’s the XHZ. The one with the TV attachment.
– Oh, I know that one. Isn’t it great?
– Yeah but I need to hook up a microphone.
– I don’t see it here, I’m sorry.
– But it must have one. It’s supposed to work with other components. Do you know what I’m saying?
– Well, the manual doesn’t mention anything about a microphone.
– I don’t need a microphone, just the input to plug on in. I tell you what: you’ve been most helpful but I need to speak to someone who knows about this. Can I speak to someone else?
– Oh, unfortunately, we don’t do that.
– What do you mean? Can I speak to a manager or something?
– Well, she’s in her lunch break. Maybe if you call back later.
– Oh, no, I was on hold for 20 minutes.
– I see. Is there anything else I could do for you? – No, that’s it. What should I do now?_- I really don’t know, I’m really sorry.
– Not your fault. Thanks anyway.
– Did I answer all your questions today?
– Well, no, not really, I mean…. BEEP BEEP BEEP
* Originally published in May 2010.