Tag Archives: Writing

Giving Alma Mater a Boost©

A light flashed on Camden Manuel’s huge mahogany desk in an office in a building on Wall Street.
“Yes, Fay,” he said
“There’s a Dean Ima Farseer on the line. From a community college.”
“I’ll take it. Put her through.”
Click.
“Dean Farseer, what a pleasant surprise. Are you in New York?”
“No, Camden, I’m back here in Letongaloosa. Thanks for taking my call.”
“It’s always a pleasure. How are the Leopards doing this season?”
“Not well, as usual. But they keep trying.”
“That’s the important thing.”
“I suppose.”
` “Is there something I can do to help?”
“Not with the football team, Camden, but perhaps something else.”
“I’ll be happy to try to help. What’s the problem?”
“We have a money problem.”
“How much do you need?”
“That’s not the problem. We have too much money.”
“Wow. Now that IS a problem.”
“You remember reading about Eloise Simplekins, the woman who made millions as a pre-cleaning ladies’ cleaning lady”?
“Yes. Eloise and I chatted at an alumni party some time back.”
“And Ribby Von Simeon, the millionaire who has that land with the reconstructed ship outside of town?”
“And Brett Timert, the guy who inherited a pile of money from his adoptive basque parents?”
“Yes, I remember. They’re good guys, all three of them.”
“Well, they want to give Letongaloosa Community Junior College a million dollars each.”
“That’s a lot of money.”
“I’ll say. Our last big alumni contribution was $850 from Old Doc Coggins’s will.”
“So, how can I help?”
“We need advice. There will be lawyers and hand-out-seekers and IRS agents all over the place.
“Give me a couple of days. I’ll talk to some people and get back to you.”
“We’ll all appreciate your help.”
Camden did some digging and called Dean Farseer a week later.
“Dean Farseer, this is Camden. I have a suggestion: You designate one building on campus for each of the donors and plan an official naming ceremony for each. If they agree, you could space the naming programs out so that the university will get maximum exposure from the mass media and the public.”
“That’s a good idea. But there’s a problem. Many of the best buildings are already named for pioneer professors, former deans and such. The faculty, and perhaps the community, would make a fuss if we dropped those traditional names.”.
“Other institutions have had that problem,” said Camden. “They solved it by giving the buildings hyphenated names with the pioneer name listed first. Names like Parson-Walters Hall and Peabody-James Hall.”
“Wow! Now we’re getting somewhere. Thank you!”
“Keep in touch, and let me know how things go.”
Time passed, and then one day Camden got an engraved invitation to attend the naming ceremony for Tilden-Simplekins Hall. Months later the university invited Camden to the dedication of Kleghorn-Von Simeon Hall. Quite a bit later came the naming of Thompson-Timert Hall.
Camden had been right. The public turned out for the dedication programs and the mass media, including some national media, covered the events. Dean Farseer gained university administration approval and was invited by a number of other universities to speak about the success of the building naming idea.
More time passed. Camden didn’t hear from Dean Farseer. And he didn’t see any more about Letongaloosa Community Junior College in the national mainstream media. Then one day a white envelope arrived at his office. The envelope contained an engraved invitation to a building-naming ceremony, but didn’t specify the name.
When Camden arrived at Letongaloosa Airport he was met by the mayor in a stretch limo and a delegation of city officials. Also on the airport tarmac were representatives of the LCJC faculty and administration. The mayor joined Camden in the limo for the ride back to town. The procession drove to campus and stopped at a speakers’ platform in front of a new dormitory building.
The mayor escorted Camden to the platform and a microphone.
“My fellow citizens,” said the mayor. “Thank you for joining us on this auspicious occasion as we designate this fine new facility Camden Manual residence hall.”
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-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
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Ghosts Of Legends Past ©

Last Thursday, I found myself sitting in my office putting the finishing touches on this month’s column. Every “I” had been dotted, every “t” had been crossed. A problem made this column difficult to write. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to write about, it’s that, with Halloween around the corner, I couldn’t stop thinking about the peculiar conversation I had with Barkley Michaels, WZBZ’s Mega-Radio’s disc jockey.
I had been away from my desk for almost two weeks. I had been in La Mancha at the Cineplex for a week helping finalize the plans for the upcoming Fall Film Festival. Immediately after that I grabbed Emmaline and we headed off to Tahiti to attend the Marlon Brando Film Festival. I went every year, especially after Letongaloosa County Community Junior College, where I teach, acquired a research grant to study the topography of the island where Brando once lived.
I also began writing the weekly movie review for the Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle after Dexter Dolby, winner of the Fall Film Festival, went out to Hollywood. The Marlon Brando Film Festival in Tahiti was always a reader favorite.
I know what you’re thinking–how many reviews can a person read (or write) about an iconic movie legend, especially since the body of work hasn’t changed in decades?
But you would be surprised. Marlon Brando films are just an element of the festivities. There is food, there is fun, and there is just an overall celebration of life in Tahiti. And that brings me back to a vexing problem and to a conversation I had with Barkley.
“I don’t understand how my listeners can be so fascinated about the fact that the station is haunted. It’s the same year after year. The former station owner Reginald Wicker watches over the station. I get tired of hearing the same old stories, along with the corny “running refrigerator” jokes that listeners like to tell, Barkley said.
The legend is that since Reginald dropped dead in the control booth, there have been strange manifestations. Control room lights grow brighter then dimmer, then go out altogether. Announcers’ throats suddenly tighten up and they sounded like Minnie Mouse for a few seconds. Then their voices would go back to normal. It was pretty non-scary haunting. It was not threatening or scary, but something new had occurred, and while still not frightening, was definitely peculiar.
While reading promotions for the Fall Film Festival, trick-or-treating schedules, and other Halloween activities occurring around town, Barkley said, everything seemed normal. Then he read the announcement about my upcoming piece showcasing my time at the Marlon Brando Film Festival. Then the haunting activity picks up.
“It’s weird–every time I play the sound bite that Isabella sent over from the newspaper office, the lights in the studio flash on the back wall like you’d see at a movie premiere”, Barkley looked perplexed.
Isabella Frost, the Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle’s managing editor had the college interns put together sound bites that used lines from well-known Brando films to showcase my review. She thought it would be a good way to get people in Letongaloosa excited about the upcoming fall film festival.
“Hmm, well, Reginald was a huge Brando film buff. I guess he still is…,” I said.
If you think about it, Halloween is more than snack-sized candy bars, haunted radio stations and toilet paper tossed into the trees in front yards. It’s about the legacy and memories that those before us have left behind—whether it is an iconic movie legend or a ghostly station manager watching over things.
“It’s not so bad, you know. And neither are the corny appliance jokes,” I said.
You may roll your eyes, but you could also embrace what’s happening and realize that the people of Letongaloosa remember the past.”
With those thoughts in mind and Barkley’s problem solved, I went home to finish my column. Barkley headed home, too. He put on his favorite Tahitian shirt, popped a large bowl of popcorn, and turned on a Marlon Brando movie. Then he sat back on his couch, and smiled.
Maybe Barkley couldn’t tell the stories of his old pal, Reginald Wicker, but I can wish everybody a Happy Halloween!
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-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

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Everything Old Is New Again©

                Putting an actual pen to an actual piece of paper is becoming a thing of the past.—at least that’s how it seems most days. I started writing quips and short stories back in 1945, back in the days that surely pre-date any social media account, smart phone app, tablet or laptop. This doesn’t mean that I don’t still like to scribble and jot ideas down when the mood strikes or when the deadline for my column is just around the corner.
What it does mean is that writers of my generation communicated in a different way than today’s 21st-century wordsmiths typing and uploading their stories at lightning speed. Now that I’ve been living as a “writer” for nearly 75 years, I can look back over my stories and notes I’ve jotted down since I was nine years old, and see how putting a pen to paper has shaped my life as a writer,
Looking back, I’m shocked that I’ve been writing this long. I hadn’t really given it much thought until I was chatting with my friend and childhood pal, Eloise Simplekins.
Eloise had always been considered plain—beginning with her name and continuing with her squat chunky figure, her thick unruly hair, her flat face, her squinty eyes, and her pug nose. But she is, and always has been very smart. Eloise always had a unique perspective and a kind word.
We met for lunch at the Main Street Diner in downtown Letongaloosa last Tuesday. Eloise wanted to tell me about her latest idea to expand her current business as La Mancha’s premier pre-cleaning lady and to reminisce about “the good ol’ days.”
“When I started my company, people in town thought I was just plum crazy, but I didn’t listen and I’m glad I didn’t…just like you”, Eloise grinned.
I smiled. I knew the story she was about to regale me with.
“I’ll never forget the look on Miss Bunker’s face when she read that note she caught you passing to Dean Larson. I still can’t believe that you convinced her that what you wrote was an idea for a story.”
“Ha, yeah. ‘Screw You’ I told her it was a title for a story about a boy who gets a toolbox for Christmas.”
Eloise laughed, “Miss Bunker said she wanted to read the story and threatened to call your mother if you didn’t finish it before we left school that afternoon.”
Smiling, I thought back to that day. Putting a pen to that piece of paper changed my life. It was the catalyst for my life as a writer—for my becoming a foreign correspondent, world traveler, newspaper reporter, and now, a humor writer.
I don’t consider myself to have had a particularly exciting or extraordinary writing life, but Eloise likes to remind me of that story I wrote for Miss Bunker.
A few years ago, Eloise started a company that services fastidious homemakers. Her idea was to send pre-cleaning ladies to homes where the homemakers can’t stand to let their regular cleaning ladies see the mess.
“Your gumption ‘way back when’ stayed with me. It gave me the courage to start my company. It took me a while, but I finally got to where I want to be…thanks to you, old friend.”
Over the years, Eloise and I have managed to keep up. We both have websites, blogs, a presence on social media.
So, I was truly surprised when Eloise told me her new idea: hand-written notes. She wanted to jot down “Thank you” messages to her clients for their business and support.
In a time when messaging and texting has become our primary form of communication, the idea showed 21st-century genius. Even I couldn’t remember the last time I had written or received a personal note—a grocery list from my wife, Emmaline, doesn’t count, does it?
It had been a good day. I left the diner that afternoon feeling good about my life as a writer and headed home to work on this month’s column. A few days later, I received a note from Eloise. It was hand-written and one of the best messages I have ever gotten from my old friend:
“Everything old is new again.”
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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

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Climbing Higher In La Mancha ©

There are few moments in life where the time span between the current and younger versions of yourself collide. Étienne Haute-Montange had such a moment three weeks ago and despite his aversion to leaving Provence, the newly retired French cyclist was excited for his next adventure. But, he never thought it would bring him all the way back to Letongaloosa.
In the early 1980’s, Étienne was working on his grandfather’s lilac farm when news came that he had been accepted into a business program in the United States at La Mancha University. He didn’t want to leave. He wanted to stay at home and compete and after only a month in La Mancha, he rushed back to do what he loved—cycling high into the mountains.
Étienne had had a two-decade long career as a competitive cyclist.
Fast forward to just a few weeks ago. After completing his final time trial, Étienne packed up and set out to retrace all of his favorite bike routes, He wanted to think. He needed to figure out where the next stage of his life would lead.
Two days later he rode onto his favorite old roman bridge, Pont Julien. He wanted to take in its height and its spectacular views. As he gazed, his cell phone buzzed. The message was from his bug-loving best friend, Zimmy Tarbox. The call solved Etienne’s “what’s next” problem, and put him on a plane bound for Letongaloosa Community Junior College.
The LCJC was offering a summer cycling course for La Mancha and Letongaloosa residents. The course needed an instructor, and Zimmy knew Étienne would be perfect for the job.
Étienne arrived in the small Midwestern college town and got together with Zimmy. Then he went to meet with the chair of the Department of et. al, et al, Dr. Ima Farseer to get her help with the academic paperwork.
Then he headed over to the entomology department to see Zimmy.
“Be careful. The legs of a Cuban rainbow beetle can be rather delicate, or so I’ve read in a paper a good friend of mine wrote.”
Zimmy looked up from the cage of rainbow beetles and smiled.
“Is that so? Well, you know, the Cuban rainbow beetle is tougher than most people would think. This particular species lives high in the mountains and the best way to see one is to climb high into the mountains. You should know all about climbing.”
Étienne grinned, “Yes, I know a quite a bit.”
Then they headed over to The Enchantment—a bar on the outskirts of town. The kind every college town needs to keep its accreditation. They ordered root beers. Étienne filled Zimmy in on the details of his final professional time trial. Then they talked about life in Provence.
Etienne mentioned how he would miss competing in races like the Tour de Fleur, but he was delighted to come back to Letongaloosa to teach others to climb the mountains as he had done in Provence,
Zimmy laughed,” Slow down, old friend. Most of the residents taking part in the summer cycling program are looking to go bike-packing on the surrounding trails or enjoy a leisurely ride around town.”
Then Zimmy remembered the Fourth of July celebration sponsored by La Mancha U, LCJC and some of the other businesses around La Mancha and Letongaloosa. Of course, there would be fireworks, games, and a big cycling race to be held at the Letongaloosa Lake Loop Trail,
“There’s a cycling race on July 4th if you’re interested. It’s no Tour de Fleur, but it is fun and the climb might even challenge you. Plus, Bastille Day is just around the corner. I think you’ll enjoy the festivities,”
Étienne was delighted. He sipped his root beer and thought about this new stage of his life. Coming back to the small Midwestern town was the right decision. He had good friends. Étienne was able to continue doing what he loved.He was on the right path,
Zimmy and he finished their root beer, paid the bill and headed for the door. It was going to be a great summer. Étienne was ready to climb higher and have the time of his life!

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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 

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Small Adjustments ©

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“Kaybe and the Six Million Dollar Project©”

The phone rang at our home one evening recently. On the line was my friend Four-Finger Fanny, an alien from outer space. Fanny works as a waitress at The Enchantment. I listened then said “I’ll be right there.”
I asked a young waitress to tell Fanny I was there, and then went to my booth in the back.
The Enchantment is a dingy roadhouse on the outskirts of Letongaloosa. Every college town needs a joint like the Enchantment to maintain its academic accreditation. I go there quite often to relax with a soft drink.
That night, however, I was there on urgent business. Another being from outer space, my friend KB2.11, (I call him Kaybe for short) had contacted me. He needed $6-million for a charity project that leaders at our end of the Milky Way galaxy were sponsoring.
“What’s up?” asked Fanny.
“Can you get in touch with Kaybe? I’m helping him raise money for a galaxy charity project and I need to know how and where to send the funds.”
As you may remember, my friend Kaybe looks like a giant tuna fish can. Erector Set arms sprout from the curved sides of his body. Three spindly legs drop from the flat underside of his stainless steel torso. He has ball bearing wheels for feet, and three sensor-eyes wave at you from the ends of floppy antennae on the top his lid.
Kaybe is from the Milky Way, but his home planet is several parsecs closer than the Earth to the center of the galaxy. And his people have solved the problem of traveling faster than the speed of light.
Kaybe speaks telepathically. His words form letters in your mind. Four-Finger Fanny is also from outer space, but she just looks like a
middle aged woman who has spent too much time on her feet.
Kaybe and Four-Finger Fanny communicate telepathically, but Four Finger
Kaybe’s $6-million project.

Fanny also speaks human. That’s good, because I’d rather not converse telepathically.
Some wealthy friends—people who have appeared in previous columns, Blair Timert, Eloise Simplekins, and Sir Jeremiah Teancrumpets,–had agreed to donate two million dollars each to the galaxy charity project.
Blair Timert, was adopted by wealthy Basque parents who lived in Letongaloosa. Their Basque name was unpronounceable for most people so they retained Blair’s birth name. Blair learned to speak Basque. In one adventure, Blair bested some Basque hoodlums who tried to kidnap him.
Eloise Simplekins was a cleaning lady for wealthy women of the wealthy La Mancha neighborhood. She realized that wealthy women in town hired pre-cleaning ladies to clean-up their husbands’ messy bathrooms before the regular cleaning ladies arrived. Eloise figured that other upper class women in the U.S. also hired pre-cleaning ladies. She founded a pre-cleaning business and sold franchises nationwide. She made a fortune.
Sir Jeremiah Teancrumpets was a British billionaire. He used to become angry at even the slightest irritation. His neighbor, a physician, taught Sir Jeremiah to laugh when he became angry, instead of becoming apoplectic. The laugh-it-off formula probably saved Sir Jeremiah from death by heart attack. But hearing Sir Jeremiah’s laugh causes some people fear and consternation.
Sir Jeremiah is a tightwad, but he hates paying income taxes. So he takes inflated income tax write-offs for donations he makes to charitable causes.
“How do we transfer these funds to Kaybe?” I asked Fanny.
“Well,” she said, “you just…” Then with a look of consternation, she added, “Wait. I’ll have to get back to you on that.”
A week later the phone rang.
“I’ve got an answer, but you’ll have to come to the Enchantment.”
“I’m on my way,” I said.
When I got to my booth, Four-Finger Fanny handed me a soft drink and said, “What I’m going to tell you is top secret. You have to guard this information with your life.”
She then gave me the name of a bank, a routing number, and the name and the number of the account. The electronic transfer went through flawlessly.
Sometime later I got a message saying that the donation had been received and that everyone involved was most grateful.
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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 

 

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April the Fool and the Psychic©

Back in April, 2015 I wrote a humor column titled “April the Fool.”
The column dealt with April Van Planton and his onery mother Lavida. Lavida and her husband had had six children and didn’t want any more. She went to the doctor for a pain in her stomach. When she was told she was pregnant, Lavida called the physician a “stupid old sawbones,” and smacked him in the head with her purse.
After the doctor’s diagnosis, Lavida made an appointment for a second opinion. This time she called the studio of Swami Samantha, a young psychic who just opened a practice in Letongaloosa.
“You’re not pregnant,” said the psychic.
“Then why do I have this pain?”
` “Do you drink orange juice?”
“Sure, every day for breakfast .”
“Switch to cranberry juice, and the pain will go away.”
Lavida switched to cranberry juice, and she did feel a lot better.
But nine months later she delivered a nine-pound baby boy.
The birth made Lavida so angry that she named the baby April. She chose that sissy name because she wanted April to be teased. She hoped he’d develop a mean streak, when he grew up. She wanted him to get into fistfights with his tormentors.
But April didn’t grow up to have a mean streak He grew up to be bright, kind and friendly. Everybody in town doted on him.
That drove Lavida nuts.
“You’re a fool, April,” she’d say.
“Yes, ma’am,” he’d say.
That drove Lavida even more nuts.
“You’re a stupid, no good, worthless bum,” she’d yell.
“I’m sorry, Momma,” he’d say. “I’ll try to be better.”
April studied hard. He got top grades even though Lavida insisted that he work long hours after school and on weekends.
When that failed to break April’s spirit, his mother gave up trying to ruin his life. Lavida died not long after that, a bitter and disillusioned woman.
In high school April aced the ACT and SAT exams. Top universities offered him four-year full-ride scholarships. April attended Harvard and graduated with a degree in business. He became CEO of a large company by the age of 30. After a successful career April retired and became an acclaimed motivational speaker.
One day Ted Palmer, president of the Letongaloosa Chamber of Commerce, saw April’s picture on the cover of a top flight business magazine. Ted had been one grade behind April in high school. On a whim Ted called the firm that booked April’s appearances and asked how much it would cost to have April speak at the chamber’s annual banquet.
“Mr. Van Planton’s fee for one speech is $50,000, unless you are a charitable organization,” said the person on the phone, “in which case it’s free. But he’s booked for charitable speeches through October, 2020”
Ted Palmer thanked her and hung up. The phone rang a few minutes later. It was April himself.
“Ted, I’d love to speak at your banquet for free,” he said.
Interest was so high that the Chamber of Commerce invited the public to attend April’s speech, and booked the largest auditorium in Letongaloosa for the event. April told Ted he wanted to approach to the microphone without introduction.
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “I’m April, the Fool.”
He got a standing ovation before he could even begin his speech—and, of course, another standing ovation after he’d finished.
April stayed in town after the speech. He wanted to meet the psychic who had had such an impact on his life. April had his executive assistant call in the appointment. The assistant requested a “back door, back room” psychic reading for an out-of-town visitor named Thomas Forman. The psychic’s reputation was wide spread, and she frequently did readings for out of town clients.
Wearing a hat and a raincoat with the collar turned up, April rapped on the back door of the psychic’s studio.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Forman, I’m Swami Samantha,” said the psychic.
“And I’m April the Fool.”
There was a long silence.
Then April said, “If you are free, I’d like to take you to dinner to thank you for all you did for me.”
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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

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Sports Bon Mots, Part 2

The Jargon:                              The Response
“He’s down for the count,” “Too bad he can only count to six.”
“This one’s going down to the wire,” “Hurry, call Western Union.”
”The coach called for a full court press,” “It’ll be back from the cleaners Monday.”
“That was a low blow.” “Even for a base saxophone”
“Smithers is on deck,” “they’re playing poker in the dugout again.”
“They need to bench that guy,” “Or maybe give him a sofa”
“He tried a head fake (basketball term)…Or was it just brain freeze?”

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

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Game Day Bon Mots

They can’t buy a basket.   And their baskets will make them $20 million a year.

They can’t find their range. But they finally found the kitchen sink.

They are throwing up bricks. Fifty building contractors want to hire them.

He threw up an air ball. Then the coach threw up.

They have to find an answer for Reggie Miller. They can’t even find an answer for Glen Miller.

It’s been a game of runs. Somebody. Please get them some Pepto-Bismol.

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

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Eloise and the “Kindness” Phenomenon©

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.”
“Can you?”
“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?”
“Excellent idea.”
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

 

 

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