Unfair At Any Price

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Gord was waiting in the front hall when Angie arrived home from work.

“That’s so cute. You missed me,” teased Angie.

It had no effect on Gord’s disposition. “Been shopping online, have you?”

“What’re you talking about?” asked Angie with a quiver in her voice.

“Your latest purchase came,” said Gord.

“Remember, you love me,” reminded Angie.

“I’m trying, but a thousand dollars for boots?” accused Gord.

Angie collapsed on the couch in the living room. “I was weak.”

“A thousand dollars! What’re they made of, platinum?”

“I think the buckles are gold plated,” offered Angie, then realized that was a bad idea.

“We can’t afford this. We’ve got too much debt already,” sighed Gord.

Angie sat up and grasped Gord’s hand. “I’m worth it, right?”

Gord pulled his hand away. “Ask me that when we’re living on the streets.”

A flash of anger burned in Angie’s eyes. “You’re just overreacting. Okay, fine. Let’s just say it’s my birthday present.”

“For the next four years,” added Gord.

“Are you serious?”

“Maybe a couple of Christmases, too,”

Angie closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

“We just can’t afford this,” whined Gord.

“So what, I return them?” asked Angie.

“Please,” said Gord.

“Or,” suggested Angie with brightening eyes, “We keep them. What’s money, anyway?”

It was Gord’s turn to sigh. “The difference between life and death, perhaps?”

A pout formed on Angie’s face. “Life’s not fair,” she grumbled.

Gord reexamined the receipt. “Nope,” he said. “And at these prices, it’s not even unfair in our favour.”

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A Watched Pot

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A rustling at the front door alerted Jeff that the mail had arrived. He leaped from his easy chair in the living room and bounded down the hall. Tossing open the door, he investigated the contents of the mailbox. His heart dropped.

More Christmas fliers.

“Did it come?” asked Agatha, from the kitchen.

“No,” grumbled Jeff. “My package still hasn’t arrived.”

“It should be here any day now,” consoled Agatha.

“You know,” said Jeff, dropping the contents of the day’s post in the recycling bin. “I’m the only one in this house without a Christmas present.”

Agatha smiled. “You’re worse than the kids.”

“I’m just stating the obvious.”

“If you wanted it quicker, you should’ve let me pay for express post,” said Agatha.

“Why pay extra? All it has to do is be here by Christmas,” said Jeff.

“Then why are you driving yourself crazy? Be patient,” said Agatha.

“Because my gift is out there somewhere in the big wide scary world. It needs to be safe and warm under the tree,” lamented Jeff.

Agatha examined her husband carefully. “You do realize how crazy you sound?”

“It’s Christmas,” complained Jeff.

“As if that’s an excuse.”

“It’s all I got.”

“It’ll get here when it gets here. You can’t make it come any faster by pacing the floor. A watched pot never boils, you know.”

“I don’t want a pot of boiling water for Christmas,” grumbled Jeff.

“It’s funny you say that. In some places in the world, clean water isn’t just a gift, it’s a life saver,” said Agatha.

She was met with a stern glare. “Thanks for the guilt trip.”

Agatha smiled. “Now you know the true meaning of Christmas.”

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A Window Into The Ancient World

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The Museum of Global Antiquities, one thousand years in the future.

The curator of the museum entered the lab and was immediately greeted by Dr. Chen.

“Dr. Tam, you’ll never believe our good fortune,” said Dr. Chen, Director of Anthro-archaeology of North America Peoples.

“I heard about the discovery of two naturally mummified remains. It’s incredible,” replied Dr. Tam.

“We have practically nothing before the Great Cataclysm. Nothing was believed to be preserved. But that’s just the half of it,” whispered Dr. Chen.

“Don’t keep me in suspense. What?” snapped Dr. Tam.

“Both specimens are extensively tattooed,” said the wide-eyed scientist.

“Are they intact?” asked Dr. Tam. His enthusiasm not matched that of his colleague.

“It’s our first glimpse into twenty-first century Western civilization.”

The blood drained from Dr. Tam’s face. He found the nearest chair and collapsed.

“Initial investigation is fascinating. The man bears a crude symbolic band around his arm,” explained Dr. Chen.

“Is it tribal?” asked Dr. Tam.

“We think so, but there is also a message down his arm. We think it might have to do with his status within the tribe.”

“Do you know what it reads?” asked Dr. Tam.

“There’s still some debate on the subject, but a crude interpretation is ‘you only have one life to live’.”

“Incredible.”

“There’s more. The male specimen has what we believe to be a symbol of ancestral worship. It’s an elaborate tribute to his mother,” explained Dr. Chen.

The two stared at each other in recognition. “A matriarchy,” said Dr. Tam.

“We think so. It would explain some of the symbols on the female. She’s adorned with floral bands and a dolphin on her ankle.”

“It sounds druidistic.”

“We believe she may be some sort of priestess.”

Dr. Tam shook his head at the revelation. “This changes everything we believed about ancient Western civilization.”

“It’s the biggest discovery in a generation. Further study will only reveal more,” said Dr. Chen.

Dr. Tam laughed. “We’re finally beginning to understand their world.”

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The Man Who Wore Two Watches

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One day, when Bertram found himself in the unusual position of needing to know the time, he discovered he had nothing with which to do so. As fortune would have it, a quick scan of the crowd uncovered a man who was, in fact, wearing two watches.

“Excuse me, please,” introduced Bertram. “Could you tell me what time it is?”

The man looked furtively back at him. “I’m sorry, no.”

Bertram was at a loss. “Aren’t you wearing two timepieces? Specifically, I mean, two devices which measure time?”

“You have a point,” admitted the man, “but so do I. A point, I mean.”

“Which is?”

“The man who wears one watch knows the time. The man who wears two is never certain,” announced the man.

This particular axiom begged several questions, but at the moment, Bertram was only concerned with one. “Could you tell me the time on one of them?” he asked, politely. Courtesy, after all, is the needy man’s dearest companion.

“Which one?” asked the man.

“Either one should suffice, as long as both are similarly aligned,” suggested Bertram.

“I suppose then, that precision is not a great concern?”

“All I need is a general point in the right direction,” said Bertram.

That seemed to satisfy the man’s concerns, because he warmly offered, “It’s quarter past seven.”

“Excellent,” gushed Bertram. “That’s most helpful, thank-you.”

“Not at all,” acquiesced the man.

Freed from his initial predicament, Bertram was able to investigate another of his questions. “If you don’t mind me asking,” he added, “why would a man choose to wear two watches?”

“I’m happy to indulge your query,” replied the man. “I say, why not wear two watches?”

“Sort of like climbing Everest, then? Because it’s there?” suggested Bertram.

“Precisely. And may I add, the need for precision is a great illusion of our time. A fool’s errand,” pontificated the man.

“Really? How so?”

“Even in our modern world, do you really believe a minute’s difference matters one way or the other?” queried the man.

The question forced Bertram to think a bit more than he expected that evening. “I don’t suppose it does,” he admitted.

The man nodded approvingly. “If a man wants to embrace the true ambiguity of life by wearing multiple timepieces, shouldn’t that be his right?”

“The point seems to be yours, as they say,” said Bertram.

The man seemed genuinely appreciative. “It’s good of you to say,” he beamed.

“I’ll say this,” added Bertram, “two watches are certainly better than none.”

“What leads you to that verdict?” pondered the man.

“I’d take ambiguity over ignorance any day,” said Bertram.

At this the man smiled. “Quite right,” he concluded.

With a nod of mutual respect, the two men saluted one another, then went their separate ways.

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Santa and the Belief Clause

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Early in December, Megan approached her dad. He sat in the living room, watching videos on his tablet.

“Does Santa have an Instagram?” she asked.

Her dad pulled out an earbud and focused on his daughter. “I don’t see why not.”

“That’s good. I thought about emailing him, but Instagram’s better,” said Megan.

“Good idea,” dismissed her dad, as he returned to his tablet.

“Dad,” said Megan.

Her dad sighed. “What’s up?” he asked.

“Does Santa have a Patreon account?” she asked.

“I don’t think so.”

“Then how does he get paid? Is it from endorsement deals? A lot of companies use him in their advertising,” mused Megan.

“He’s independently wealthy,” said her dad.

“Oh. Like Elon Musk?” asked Megan.

“Something like that,” concluded her dad, trying to get back to his video.

“He must be really rich, ‘cause he makes all those toys every year. How did he get his wealth?”

Her dad closed his tablet and set it in his lap. “Why are you so curious about this?”

Megan frowned. “What if he ran out of money and couldn’t do it anymore. I’d hate to see an old man lose his dream.”

“You just don’t want to lose free stuff,” said her dad, knowingly.

Megan giggled.

Her dad shook his head. “You know, you’re twenty years old,” he said. “At some point you’re supposed to stop believing in Santa Claus, and start believing in the government.”

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Yeet Is Not A Word

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The family settled to a quiet meal, a rare event now that the kids were teenagers. Dad and Mom shared a satisfied glance across the table.

“Dad, can you yeet me the potatoes?” asked Stan, their thirteen year old.

Shawn, their seventeen year old, suppressed a snicker.

Dad shook his head, thinking he misheard. “I’m sorry, what?”

“Yeet me the potatoes,” repeated Stan.

Dad looked at Mom with shock and confusion.

“He wants you to pass him the potatoes,” interpreted Shawn.

“Big yeet,” said Stan.

“Big pass?” asked Mom.

“In this case, it means the affirmative,” added Shawn.

“Couldn’t you just say that?” asked Dad.

“I did,” said Stan.

“Yeet is not a word,” said Dad.

“Yes it is. I use it with my friends all the time,” replied Stan.

“Is it in the dictionary?” asked Mom.

“It’s in the urban dictionary,” said Stan.

Dad leaned forward with his elbows on the table. “First of all, the urban dictionary isn’t a real dictionary. And second, we live in the suburbs.”

Stan shook his head in defiance. “It’s still a word.”

“It’s kinda like saying ‘tubular’ when you were young,” added Shawn.

“That was way before our time,” interjected Mom.

“So what did you say?” asked Stan.

“We spoke English,” declared Dad.

“Yeah, right. Big yeet,” scoffed Stan.

“That’s not a word,” stressed Dad.

“Did you know Shakespeare invented a bunch of words in his plays? He even invented the name ‘Jessica’,” noted Shawn.

“That doesn’t justify ‘yeeting’ potatoes,” said Dad.

“It proves that language is constantly evolving. Maybe someday everybody will be saying yeet,” said Shawn.

“Big yeet,” smiled Stan, triumphantly.

Dad dropped his head and closed his eyes.

“Don’t worry, Dad,” said Stan. “If you want I can teach you the new language.”

Mom looked at Stan, then over at Dad. “That would be a big yeet, wouldn’t it, dear?”

“Sure,” replied Dad. “That would be totally tubular.”

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Technological Advancement

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Ben and Steve wandered through their StuffMart, stocking up on supplies. After loading up with frozen pizzas and chips, They wandered back to the front of the store to pay. Without a word, Ben entered the self-checkout line.

“What’re you doin’?” demanded Steve.

“What d’ya mean?”

“Don’t do the cashier’s job,” said Steve.

“This is easier,” said Ben.

“So you’d see someone lose their livelihood just for the sake of convenience? That’s cold, man.”

Ben started scanning his groceries and placing them in bags. “Don’t blame me. Blame technology.”

“I won’t use a self-checkout. I’d rather save jobs,” said Steve, with an air of smugness.

Ben scoffed. “Where were you when knocker uppers were losing their jobs?”

A scowl erupted across Steve’s face. “What’re you talking about?”

“A hundred years ago, it was a real job. Then the affordable alarm clock was invented. Somehow society didn’t implode,” explained Ben.

“Your point?” demanded Steve.

“Technology changes. It takes away some jobs and creates others,” said Ben.

Steve’s frown betrayed his skepticism. “I’m not in a hurry to see unemployed cashiers on the streets, struggling to feed their families.”

“What do you want me to say? You need to adapt or get left behind. That’s how life works.”

“Wow. I don’t ever want to be on your bad side,” concluded Steve.

Ben shook his head disapprovingly. “Dude, you totally miss the point.”

“And what’s that?”

Ben finished his transaction and grabbed the receipt. “Everything changes, and not all changes are bad.”

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