Let your fingers do the plotting

A few weeks ago, a “Yellow Pages” suddenly appeared in front of my house. I know within 10 minutes of when it showed up because it wasn’t there when I went into the house, but when I came out… Boom, ancient relic.

Kanye West tweeted: “I hate when I’m on a flight and I wake up with a water bottle next to me like oh great now I gotta be responsible for this water bottle”. Deep down inside, I guess I’m like Kanye West, except with a phone book instead of a water bottle. Also, maybe not as talented or publicly ‘wacky’. Anyways, I didn’t sign up for this. I didn’t ask the world to be responsible for an outdated reference book that I’ll never use because it’s the year 2016 and I have the Internet. Deciding fast, I grab it and jump into my car. I know these books are distributed by someone driving through the neighborhood and throwing them. Like the Cylons, I have a plan.

I will give it back.

I will choose NOT to be saddled with this… burden. Driving, it’s easy to tell which houses have been hit by the phantom thrower. I glide quietly, my hybrid in “panther mode”, scanning back-and-forth. I’m trying to find a pattern. Am I heading towards them or just retracing the path that led them to my house? An old phonebook looks like a fresh one, there’s no way to tell.

I give up and decide to brute force the neighborhood.

I drive up and down every road, my head on a swivel. Every time I go through intersection, I do that thing we all do at supermarket when we’re looking for the person we came to the store with. A few times, I see something promising and look. Each time, it’s a false alarm and if there’s anyone in the car I’m checking out, they stare at me as I creep slowly past. What’s this LOOK like to them? Well, that’s a question that doesn’t occur to me until afterwards so I continue my mission, leaving a trail of freaked out helicopter parents and neighborhood watch enthusiasts in my wake.

About 15 minutes in, I finally realize this isn’t going to work. Either these people are way faster than I imagined, or we were the last house in the neighborhood. Maybe they’re halfway to Reno to blow their phonebook blood money on doing a gamblings or whatever it is physical spammers do with profits, I don’t know.

I give up. I tuck the phonebook in front of my seat and head back to the office.

A day or two later, my wife notices it on the floor of my car and asks what it’s doing there. I tell her, and she’s immediately practical. “Throw it away or put it in the recycling”, she tells me. “If your plan was to give it back and they’re gone, just get rid of it”.

This doesn’t sit well with me because I feel like then that means the world gets another victory over human decency. The kind of people who throw phonebooks at houses get a pass, and the rest of us need to deal with their anti-social behavior. It doesn’t seem quite right, like I’d would be giving up.

“Well, I was thinking”- I lie, having been doing no such thing, everything I’m about to tell her is occurring to me as I speak so nobody is more surprised than me when that sentence continues: “that maybe I’ll just wait until I see someone who’s parked terribly and maybe put the phonebook under their windshield wiper as some kind of silly, petty protest.”

Hearing it out loud, that actually doesn’t sound half bad. Out of the thousands of ways people have objected to antisocial parking over the centuries, this is a pretty inoffensive one. Yeah, I think maybe I could actually do this. It’ll be great!

Then I remember I’ve just been talking to someone, the level-headed practical bedrock in my life who keeps me together. I can sit here patting myself on the back all I want, but the woman whose opinion is important to me and whose judgment I trust would probably have some input on this grand scheme. I brace myself, this idea may not survive the cold light of logic and sense. These thoughts happen in a flash, she responds instantly.

“Then go get some more of those phonebooks from our neighbors”, she suggests reasonably, “there’s lots of bad parkers. If we’re going to do this, let’s do it right”.

Damnit, I love this woman so much.

Wisdom in the larceny of youth

Many Earth years ago, one of my sons was 5 years old and made a color copy of a $1 bill (both sides), cut them out, and taped them together. As an added bonus, he wrote “20” on each corner with a green marker then tried to present it to me.

After telling him about counterfeiting and the various problems, I added that it wouldn’t even work because most people would look at it and know instantly it was counterfeit.

“But I don’t have to fool all the people,” he responded, “I just have to fool one person”.

That left me thinking for a while.

Has Been

A reddit poster asked what people didn’t notice about themselves until someone else pointed it out, and I had something.

I live on the west coast of Earth’s North America and “been” is pronounced in a way that rhymes with “when”. I’ve always pronounced it in a way that rhymes with “bean”. No, I guess it doesn’t just rhyme, it’s phonetically identical. Huh. Anyways, I did it unconsciously even though my whole family (I’ve since checked) uses the “when”-rhyming spelling.

A co-worker both called my attention to it one day AND offered a completely reasonable explanation when I couldn’t think of why. My given first name is ‘Ben’ (phonetically identical to how most people around me pronounce ‘been’) and the co-worker speculated that perhaps I was unconsciously differentiating between the word any my name by grabbing onto the spelling and e-nun-cia-ting the fuck out of it.

I think… I think that’s right. I had no idea until someone pointed that out.

Home ownership and cats

A quick thought: One day, my wife and I realized that we were adults and we owned our own home and that meant we could do CRAZY things and the first CRAZY THING we did was put a cat door on our bedroom door.

It was amazing. Suddenly, we were able to both sleep through the night AND have a door guarding against hallway monsters because everyone knows hallway monsters are too big to fit through cat doors. Later, when we had children, the closed door also protected against children that wanted to come and sleep with us JUST BECAUSE and that just would not do, yet our cats could still come and go like little karma chameleons without disturbing us.

When you own your house (or if you’re just very, very casual about the concept of ‘damage deposits’ on rentals) you can do this. It is a good thing.

Life's too short to be nice