Absurdities 1/22/19

By Richard E. Bleil, Ph.D.

Yesterday, a major news outlet that I follow pushed out a “breaking news” notification regarding the second team that will be playing in the Superbowl.

Are we serious about that? This is breaking news? I can’t help but think that anybody who is truly interested in football would probably be following, and knew before the “breaking news” article could be written and released. You might argue that there could be some people (like at work) who might not have been able to follow the game, but by the same token, if this were the case, they probably wouldn’t be able to follow the news either. Anyway, surely they would have another way to get the news. A friend would let them know, or they would get the news after work.

I like science and mathematics. Imagine if we reported on math the same way that we reported on sports? <In a hushed golf-like tones…> Announcer number one, “Welcome back from the commercial break. There is certainly no end to the action here, as she has just gotten another cup of coffee.” Announcer two, “I believe this is her third cup of coffee for the day?” Announcer 1, “That’s right. She will likely need a pit stop soon, but for the moment she is staring at the chalkboard.” Announcer 2, “A bit of trivia, only about three percent of the matheletes still use chalkboards. For a time, whiteboards were quite popular, but today a whopping seventy-three percent of mathematicians prefer writing on their tablets.” Announcer 1, “Wait…wait…I think she…yes, she has picked up the chalk and walked to the board…it could be a goal…the chalk is at the board…no…no, she’s put the chalk back down.” Announcer 2, “That was breathtaking…”

The team that won (yet another) Superbowl bid yesterday played when I was in New York City, as well. For somebody who is raised in the Midwest as I was, New York was an interesting experience. I mailed the few possessions I had to myself at my new address, and showed up with little more than a suitcase filled with clean…and dirty…clothes. Heading towards the airport exit to get a cab, I saw a kiosk with car services, and decided to treat myself. I walked to the kiosk (long enough ago that there was an actual factual human like being serving it) and asked for a car. She gestured towards the three displayed car services on the counter, and asked “which one?”

How would I know? I was less than five minutes off of the plane in my first visit to the city explained this, and said it didn’t matter, any would be fine.

“I’m sorry sir,” she said, “I cannot choose for you, you must make a choice.”

“But I have no way of knowing the difference,” I countered.

“I’m sorry, but you must choose.”

I pointed to the one on my left, and said, “This one, I guess.”

She picked up the phone, and a minute later, hangs up and says, “I’m sorry, sir, but they have no cars available at this time. Would you care to try another one?”

At this point, the game was clearly on.

“Yes, please,” I replied. We stood in icy silence. She stared at me, and I back at her.

“Which one…sir?” she asked.

My hand gestured towards my right, without even looking down. “Let’s try THIS one,” I replied.

She picked up the phone, and a minute later, she hangs up and says, “I’m sorry, but they don’t have one available either. Would you like to try ANOTHER one?”

I paused dramatically, because I’m like that. “Yes, please,” I replied.

She tensed up, our eyes locked as in mortal combat. My lips tensed, as a bead of sweat rolled down the side of my face.

Finally, she said, “Which one…SIR?”

Without breaking my gaze with her, my hand gestured to the middle one. “Let’s try THIS one…please!”

I would say “to make a long story short,” but it’s already too late for that. She told me the car would be out front in about five minutes. I thanked her, with a bit of a smile, and headed out. But, the sad thing is that they didn’t have a car (typically they are Lincoln Town cars, really just a step up from cabs). Unbeknownst to me, the only car they had left was a stretchlimousinee, which was driven by the owner of the company. As a student, with nothing to my name, I pulled up to my apartment building in a stretch limousine. The absurdity was thick.

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