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Guest Writer

Conversations at the edge of comprehension
Can I get a fork real quick?
by Eric Jahn

an I get a fork real quick?

I overheard that question yesterday in a coffee shop that also sells cakes and pies. Mmmm ... cake. I need cake now. CAKE NOW!

Years of cultural cultivation and subtle genetic transformations from such fabled ancestry as the Spartans, the Aztecs and the fearsome Poles (so they say) has culminated in this? I am starting to suspect all the ancient war fables of Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, etc., are inaccurate.

Humans were actually a peaceful plains-dwelling species mainly subsisting on cakes and tarts foraged and fashioned from the natural wheat, oats and chocolaty goodness of their environment. It is our innate yearning for cakes, pies and tarts that makes them the highest-scoring prizes in such video games as Super Mario Brothers, Burger-Time and Pac-Man.

Anyway, I had a lovely e-mail exchange with my sewer company the other day. I wanted to save the environment by receiving e-mailed bills instead of them trucking bills over to my house. It would be a simpler relationship: they would send me electrons cleverly encoding billing invoices and, in return, I would send them the unspeakable.

The conversation went exactly like this:

Me: When will you be having the option of e-mail-only paperless billing? I tend to lose envelopes and it's cheaper long-term for you ... Thanks!

Sewer Company: I'm not sure if we'll ever do away with the paperless bills completely. For now though, you can go to www.[company].com and set up a password to view your bills online at the Web site.

Me: Every other vendor of mine has done away with paper bills. And by the way, by saying "I'm not sure if we'll ever do away with the paperless bills completely," you're implying with a double negative that [the company] will indeed use paperless bills to the extent that you'll never get rid of them.

Sewer Company: Sorry for my gramatical error.

I refrained from informing him that he spelled "grammatical" wrongly. Must focus ... this is not about grammar, this is about the contractual exchange of turds and electrons.

Which brings me back to the coffee shop in which I started this account, but still follows this environmentalist line of thought.

Another guy in the coffee shop, sort of homeless-looking, walked up to the counter and proclaimed to the barista that he didn't drive a car, citing as a reason the pollution vehicles cause. The barista barely listened whilst he transported a slab of carrot cake onto a plate.

The customer intrepidly continued: "Well, I'd drive a car if the electric ones ran longer ... but I'm going to change all that."

"How?" the barista asked.

The customer responded: "By improving the photovoltaic retention of energy in batteries ... and do you know how I am going to do that?"

"How?" the barista tiredly asked.

"With science," the customer triumphantly replied.

Pass the cake; that hurt my brain.

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