Upbeat Cynicism

what do you mean i lost my mind?

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“What were you trained in, Chester?”

“Well,” said Chester, considering, “I… ah… majored in liberal arts.”

“You mean you paint pictures?”

“No, nothing like that. Business administration.”

“I don’t think I’ve heard of that. Is it a game of skill or chance?”

“Both.” Chester smiled patiently. “No, in biz ad we’re taught how to manage large commercial enterprises.”

“I see. And after receiving your training you went on to actual management of some such organization?”

“Well, no. Funny, but I couldn’t seem to find any big businessmen who were looking for a fresh college graduate to tell them how to run their companies.”

“Perhaps we’d better try something else. What about the arts?”

“I did do a painting once,” Chester said hesitantly. “It had numbers that you compared with a chart and then you matched that up with the little cans of paint and colered in the spaces.”

“I’m not sure there’s going to be a large call for that type of skill here.”

“Don’t disparage it. President Eisenhower—”

“What about handicrafts? We value the manual skills highly here, Chester.”

“Oh, I’ve done a lot of that. Built a plastic boll weevil only last month. Over two hundred interlocking parts.”

“You made the parts from plastic?”

“No. I bought a kit. But…”

“Perhaps in the field of sports?” Darina suggested.

Chester blushed. “Well, of course, in school I was a great fan of outdoor activities. I never missed a game the entire four years.”

“Splendid!” Darina looked interested. “We’ll be happy to receive instruction in any new types of athletic competition of which you’re master.”

“Well, I didn’t actually play, of course. But I was there in the stands, rooting. And I know some of the rules.”

“You didn’t play?”

“I was on my fraternity’s bridge squad,” Chester offered.

“How is that played?” asked Darina, brightening. Chester explained. There was an awkward silence.

“Chester, have you ever performed any useful labor?” Darina asked.

“As a matter of fact, I worked one summer in a factory. I was an instrument spot-checker. I made sure the controls that worked the automatic machinery were functioning properly.”

“This involved mechanical skills?”

“If anything had gone wrong with the TV scanner that actually did the inspecting, I was on the spot to see that the back-up scanner took over.”

“You activated the emergency equipment, in other words?”

“No, it was automatic. But I assure you, the union regarded my job as essential.”

— Keith Laumer, The Great Time Machine Hoax

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Written by [IMH]

14 January 2008 at 12:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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