Monday, January 31, 2000

Who Wants to Be Real?

As the newsletter rapidly approaches its 400th issue, it's time to go back and play one of our more popular features over the years, a little game we like to call, "Tell Us What Is Real!" As those of you that have been with us from the very start know, the game is deceptively but splendidly simple. We tell you two stories, one of which is true, and one of which is made up. Your assignment is to guess which is which. First one with the right answer gets a special lil gift from Mr. Max (a fellow who knows a thing or two about how to tell if they're real or not). Actually a bit of clarification here- both stories are true, one really happened and one is a dream I had. Thus there is nothing unreal about either one. Just one happened in my head and the other I have actual witnesses.

STORY #1: I go to my neighborhood Super America store to buy a bag of bubble gum. I'm not looking for any of that new fangled chemically softened fruity flavored Bubble Yum/Bubbleiscious crap. Nope, I'm looking for the good old fashioned Double Bubble hard as a rock but tasty nonetheless pink teeth breaking substance coated with an impenetrable shell of sugar. As I wander to the very back of the store I find my treasured gum. On the way up to the register I notice a rack of jeans. I think to myself it is odd that Super America has clothing but impulsively I say to myself, "Hmmm. I could use a pair of jeans." Unfortunately as I slide hanger upon hanger across the metal rack, making that annoying "swoosh" noise, I notice none of the pants are even close to my waist and inseam size. Then as I get to the very end of the rack, for no rhyme or reason the very last pair is much shorter than the rest. My exact size! My impulses are satisfied... It has to be destiny.

I take my items up front only to notice a rather lengthy line at the register. The clerk is unbearably slow and indifferent to the increasingly impatient line of people including myself. After a long wait I finally get to the treasured second place in line. The clerk and the customer in front of me begin to engage in a long and meaningless conversation. I spend as much time in the bridesmaids' position as I have moving through the turtle paced like line. I think about complaining, I think about putting my merchandise aside and walking out in a huff, but I decide that I've waited this long, I can wait just a little bit longer.

The clerk finally finishes with the person in front of me. I plop my gum and my pants on the counter and the clerk immediately says to me, "I can't sell you these pants." I'm perplexed. I ask him why. He doesn't say anything coherent to explain his actions. I stand there bewildered. It becomes clear neither one of us is going to budge. Finally I lose it. Hollering at the clerk, I reach to the rear and pull down the plastic display standing behind him. He's trapped with his arms flailing about. He manages to reach for the phone and call the cops. The customers behind me are horrified by the turn of events. Seeing the clerk trapped underneath the weight of the display I know that I can simply walk out of the store with or without my pants and gum, but I decide out of principle I will wait and stay for the police to arrive. I'm right and he's wrong. He's discriminating against me. I have no reason to run. They have no right not selling me pants. So I wait for the police to arrive and when they do they don't seem too interested in my explanation of the events.

STORY #2: Ever since I started my new job in September the light fixture above my desk has had a flickering problem. There have been some days I've been in the dark both figuratively and literally. So the other day I arrive at work only to find a post-it note attached to my computer monitor telling me not to turn on my computer until the electricians arrive. I wait for a few minutes and two scruffy looking guys walk in the office who tell me when I'm at my desk, I shouldn't take off my shoes. Seems there are some exposed live copper wires underneath my desk arching electricity with enough voltage to electrocute me if I should happen to touch them. (Instant and perhaps necessary homemade electroshock therapy?) A flashback of a few weeks back pops into my head, when I was down on my hands and knees not saying a prayer but trying to sort through a myriad of wires that seemed unattached. Shockingly my luck was with me that day and I didn't touch anything hair raising.

These two men emphasize the seriousness of the wiring problem around my desk. If someone doesn't zap themselves then there is a high risk of a fire. I assure them my shoes are on quite tightly. I think they think I'm joking but I'm not. They think I think they're joking but I know they're not. I head off to a meeting. When I return two hours later my entire desk is gone! In its place is a pile of tools and wires. My neatly arranged files, my carefully placed pictures and plaques are thoughtlessly tossed into the rubble that was once my cube. The whole mess is bathed in an appropriate darkness because the energy around my area has been shut off. I spend the next two days on taxpayers time sitting at a bare table right in everyone's way, with no access to my computer and nothing I can do but helplessly watch a group of maintenance men and electricians complain about the whole situation.

SO THERE! One of the above stories actually occurred and the other is a dream. Your mission, if you wish to participate, is to determine the actual event. One final word- before you arrive at your guess ask yourself one last thing, "Is that your final answer?"

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