Longtime readers of this column will remember Eloise Simplekins in “Eloise Calls the Robo Callers,” and in “Packin Light Heat”. For those who haven’t met Eloise, following is an introduction to her from previous columns:
“Eloise Simpelkins grew up in Letongaloosa and worked as a cleaning lady. Later Eloise made a pile of money. She founded a company that serviced a fastidious segment of the nation’s wealthy homemakers. Eloises’s company sent pre-cleaning ladies to certain homes. The homemakers didn’t want the regular cleaning ladies to see all the mess and paid Eloise handsomely for her discrete pre-cleaning services.”
Eloise has learned from recent scientific studies that being kind to others has highly beneficial effects on the do-gooder’s own health and wellbeing. Naturally she wants to spread the good news nationwide. So Eloise contacts her friend Hadley “Cyberman” Wilkins. Hadley the brilliant electronic engineer who helped develop cell phone technology.
“Hadley,” said Eloise. “How goes it?”
“Busily, my philanthropic friend, how goes it with you?”
“I’m well. Listen. I want to disseminate some good information to a nationwide audience.”
“That’s a laudable goal. What’s the message?”
“I saw a survey that says people who are kind to others become healthier and live longer themselves.”
“Good information. That would people an incentive to be nice to each other.”
“I need a way to disseminate the information nationwide quickly and anonymously.
“How much information?”
“It’s just six short phrases. Thirty-five words or so.”
“That much info would fit on one screen of everybody’s cell phone.”
“How many cell phones is that?”
“Millions, just in the U.S.”
“Can you hack millions of cell phones simultaneously and not get caught?”
` “With the right algorithm .”
“Who has one?”
“I’d need to create one.”
“For such a good cause I’ll sure try. Give me the list.”
Eloise sent Hadley the list of benefits for being kind to people.
A. Kindness is heart-healthy.
B. Kindness relieves stress
C. Being kind cuts down on illness
D. Being kind helps make your hormones healthy
E. Being kind can lengthen your life.
Weeks went by while Hadley wrestled with one of the hardest problems he’d ever worked on.
Finally Eloise received a one-word message: “Eureka!”
Then a day or two later came another message: “When do you want to do it?”
“How about Valentine’s Day?”
Around 9 a.m. on Valentine’s Day Hadley got a two-word order: “Do it.”
He pressed a button on a huge electronic console. Simultaneously millions of U.S. users got a “ding” on their cell phones. When they checked their screens, the kindness list beamed up at them.
That touch of a button caused a worldwide sensation. Communication networks crashed temporarily from the volume of messages, then righted themselves and got busy transmitting the reactions.
Investigations began everywhere. The official agencies of the U.S. government, and similar agencies worldwide, searched in vain for the source of what became known in a myriad of language as the “kindness” transmission.
Legislators opined, news organizations reported, editorial writers and columnists pontificated. “Kindness” discussions flourished in bar rooms from Helsinki to Perth.
Bridge club members quit bidding, and poker chips stopped hitting velvet tables while people talked about the Kindness list. Domino games in the Caribbean and Cricket matches in the Indian subcontinent were interrupted.
In the U.S. as Valentine’s Day approached, employment at greeting card factories doubled and tripled. The card makers ran three shifts a day. The U.S. Postal Service and private mail and package delivery companies took on hundreds of extra workers. The kindness phenomenon helped economy.
Predictably, opinions about the Kindness List varied wildly, but for a little while, the world became a kinder, gentler place.
Eloise and Hadley were shocked and amazed by the furor they had caused. At first they were frightened. But then they realized that the electronic firewall they had created was working. They remaining safe and anonymous.
They got together to chat on a super secure telephone connection.
“Wow!” said Eloise, “That was really something.”
“Whew!” said Hadley, “You bet it was.”
“So, said Eloise, what shall we do next year?”
-30-Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co