The Belize Curling Team

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“Have you been watching the Winter Olympics?” Brandon asked Kayla as they waited in line at the coffee shop.

“No. I can’t be bothered,” replied Kayla.

Brandon guffawed. “I can’t believe that. It’s so inspiring.”

“What?” challenged Kayla. “A bunch of ‘roided up athletes doing things that have no value in the real world? No thanks.”

“It’s people like you that make the world a miserable place. I see opportunity,” said Brandon.

“Alright,” said Kayla. “I’ll play your silly little game. What opportunity?”

Brandon’s face lit up. “I’m gonna move to some warm weather country. I’ll start a curling team and become an olympic athlete.”

A smile formed on one side of Kayla’s face and a sneer formed on the other. They met in the middle and created an expression the envy of evil geniuses everywhere.

“What country would take you?” she asked.

“I dunno. Belize. Why not? It’s a great PR scheme.”

“You’re fifty.”

“I’m forty-five.”

“Whatever. You’re still ancient.”

“It’s not without precedent. Remember the Jamaican bobsled team back in 1988?”

“No. I wasn’t even born yet,” scoffed Kayla. “Stick to something more age appropriate, like bingo.”

Brandon shook his head. “That hurts. It’s not nice to crush somebody’s dream.”

“If dream crushing was an olympic event, I’d win gold for sure,” gloated Kayla.

 

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The Philosophy of Refuse

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At the morning break, Ed pulled the garbage truck into a quiet spot where he and Luigi could have a snack.

“Have you ever stopped to think that we’re gathering stuff archaeologists will examine a thousand years from now to understand our society?” asked Luigi.

Ed glared as he took a bite of a cinnamon roll. “Nope.”

Luigi stared off into space. “Garbage says a lot about what we value in life.”

“Yep,” said Ed.

“Of course, recycling changes the picture quite a bit. Not saying it’s bad, I’m just saying,” said Luigi.

“Sure,” said Ed.

“There are smart people right now who spend their lives studying garbage,” added Luigi.

“Uh huh.”

“It just, I dunno. changes how you think about what we do, You know?” asked Luigi.

Ed washed down a bite of roll with coffee. “Not really,” he said.

The reply caught Luigi off guard. “You don’t think about this stuff?”

Ed shook his head. “Kid, I got a Masters degree in Anthropology. I make more money driving a garbage truck than I’d ever make in my field of study.”

“I had no idea.”

“You can philosophize all you want about somebody’s trash. All I know is it helps me raise a family.”

Luigi thought for a second. “Okay, sure. But don’t you ever think about the bigger picture?”

“You think a thousand years from now, I think about the next generation. Philosophy changes with your perspective,” said Ed, after taking a final swig of his coffee.

A light flickered in Luigi’s brain. “Never thought about it that way before,” he said.

Ed started the truck. “Uh huh.”

The two went back to work.

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Alien Overlords, Sentient Robots and a Zombie Apocalypse, Oh My!

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“I’ve done some figuring,” Carmen announced.

Jerry looked over at Carmen, but decided silence as his wisest course of action.

“According to sci-fi movies, humanity is doomed,” concluded Carmen.

“Is that right?” asked Jerry.

“Catastrophically so.”

“That’s disconcerting,” said Jerry.

“It’s worse. Alien overlords, sentient robots. Where could we possibly fit?” cried Carmen.

“What if the alien overlords battled with the sentient robots for supremacy of the earth?” asked Jerry.

“We’d be caught in the crossfire, for sure. The few who remains would be plagued by a zombie apocalypse.”

“That would be quite a mess,” noted Jerry.

“You know it.”

“What if the alien and robots obliterated each other? We’d be the only ones left,” suggested Jerry.

“Don’t forget the zombies.”

“Right. I forgot.”

“It’s more likely the alien overlords would reprogram the sentient robots on account of their superior technology,” said Carmen.

“They’d still have to content with the notoriously low-tech zombies.”

“How hard would that be? Computer guided lasers would make quick work of the living dead. I’m tellin’ ya, it’s a bleak future,” said Carmen.

“Then we’ll have to put our trust in something else,” said Jerry.

“Like what?” asked Carmen.

How about God?” suggested Jerry.

Carmen rolled his eyes. “You are so unrealistic.”

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T

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“If you change the angle of the arm, I think you can create more leverage while minimizing tension on the lift winch,” explained Colby. She and Mel were standing behind the desk, staring intently at the computer.

“If we increase the angle even more, can we increase total load?” asked Mel.

“Good question. Let’s crunch some numbers,” replied Colby.

In the middle of the meeting, Ashton the intern approached. “By the way,” he interrupted.

Colby glared over the computer.

“Can this wait?” demanded Mel.

“If we don’t get this done, we set the project back a month,” added Colby.

Ashton stamped his foot in a huff. “This is important, too.”

Mel looked apologetically at Colby.

“Very important,” added Ashton.

Colby responded with a resolved shrug.

Mel sighed. “Fine, what do you need?” asked Mel.

“What font do you want me to use in emails?” asked Ashton.

Colby rolled her eyes and ducked behind the computer.

“Are you serious?” demanded Mel.

“I need to know,” said Ashton.

“Use the default,” said Mel.

Ashton crossed his arms. “That’s so boring.”

“This is business. Boring is good,” said Mel.

“What about my personal identity?” asked Ashton.

Colby looked up with a fire in her eyes. “Take your personal identity and get out. We have real work to do.”

Ashton threw the papers he was carrying in the air. “This is a hostile work environment. I demand respect.”

“Put your grievance in a email. Font of your choice,” said Colby.

Ashton stormed away, swearing as he went.

Mel looked at Colby.

“What?” she demanded.

“That could’ve been handled better,” said Mel.

“I don’t have time for stupid,” said Colby.

Mel sighed. “Everybody wants respect, but no one wants to give it.”

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Hall of Fame

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“It’s freezing outside! I hate winter,” moaned Rich.

Alf shook his head. “Why does everyone complain about the weather? It’s not like you can do anything about it.”

“I’m sick of all this cold. I want to find a global warming scientist and slap him,” said Rich.

“It’s called climate change now.”

“Why can’t they make up their mind?”

“Probably because winter is so cold. It doesn’t exactly fit the narrative,” said Alf.

“Not to mention people around here would cheer for global warming. Winter sucks,” complained Rich.

“It’s not that bad. Where I grew up, exposed skin would freeze in under a minute. It’s all about what you’re used to,” said Alf.

“Where was that?”

“Winnipeg. It wasn’t just cold, either. It’s at the end of the prairies, so the wind would blow you away,” explained Alf.

“That’s my version of Hell,” said Rich.

“Only if it froze over.”

Rich smiled. “True.”

“Compare to that, this isn’t so bad.”

“That’s one way to look at it. I’d rather see if from a sunny beach in the Caribbean,” said Rich.

“Then again, cold winters make hardier folk. We’re made of tougher stuff,” said Alf.

“I wouldn’t go that far.”

“Okay, how about not having to deal with poisonous snakes or spiders. No hurricanes or tornadoes,” said Alf.

“But we have massive, city stopping blizzards. People freezing to death,” said Rich.

“Actually, freezing to death’s not that bad. After a while you don’t feel anything. You just drift away. It’s kinda peaceful if you think about it,” said Alf.

Rich looked at Alf in disbelief. “That’s morbid.”

“You brought it up,” said Alf.

“How did we even get here?” asked Rich.

“You were complaining about the cold,” said Alf.

“That right. I hate it.”

“You said that already,” said Alf.

“I’ll keep saying it until Summer.”

“Then you’ll complain about the heat.”

“We’re northerners. Complaining about weather’s what we do. It’s like our national past time,” said Rich.

“If that’s true, then you’re a hall of famer,” said Alf.

Rich smiled. “I”d like to thank the hall for this honour.”

Alf rolled his eyes. “You’re the worst.”

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When Optimism Breaks Down

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It was the first beautiful day of Spring. Mandy, Jacob, Ethan and Roxie took full advantage by taking their lunch outside.

“I got a cat on the weekend,” announced Ethan.

“A man with a cat. Insert stereotype here,” laughed Mandy.

“Oh yeah? Do you have a pet?” demanded Ethan.

“I have a gecko,” replied Mandy.

“That’s unusual,” said Roxie.

“You can’t cuddle with a gecko on a couch,” said Ethan.

Mandy looked at Ethan with a glint in her eye. “I have a man for that.”

Jacob and Roxie erupted with laughter.

“Feel the burn,” said Jacob.

Ethan tried to speak, but his brain wasn’t quick enough to come up with a reply.

“I have a bunch of pets,” said Jacob.

“What?” asked Roxie.

“A colony of bedbugs,” replied Jacob.

The rest of the group looked at him in silent horror.

“That’s gross,” said Mandy.

“Was that meant to be funny? It’s not,” added Roxie.

“Those aren’t pets. They’re a plague,” said Ethan.

Jacob shifted in his seat. “I don’t know how I got ‘em, but I figured, why not learn to appreciate it?”

“Ew. How about not?” said Roxie.

“They’re living creatures, too. It’s not like they carry diseases or anything. When you think about it, they’re harmless,” explained Jacob.

“They live by feeding off your blood,” said Ethan.

Mandy got up and stood away from Jacob. “You may be carrying them on you right now.”

The other two put some distance between them and Jacob.

“I don’t want your pets comin’ home with me,” said Roxie.

“Look,” said Jacob. “I’m just tryin’ to make the best of a bad situation. You know, look on the bright side.”

Mandy’s eyes bulged. “There is no bright side to bedbugs.”

“I can’t believe I sat next to you,” shivered Ethan.

Jacob watched in desperation as Ethan and Mandy left him behind.

Roxie wagged her finger at Jacob. “Sometimes optimism is a bad idea,” she said, then stormed away.

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Pavlov’s Cellphone

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The dimly lit room shrouded all but the sounds of other diners in the restaurant. Jimmy and Wanda stared at each other over candle light, enjoying one of their infrequent date nights.

The murmur of hushed conversation was suddenly interrupted by the chime of a cell phone. A bright screen lit up like a beacon.

A minute later, another chime was followed by a piercing light. Then another.

“It’s like we’re a generation Pavlov’s dog. We hear the ring and have to respond. We’re slaves to our cellphones,” said Wanda.

“Where’s yours?” asked Jimmy.

“In my purse.”

“What if you get a text from the kids?” asked Jimmy.

“They have custom ringtones. I’ll know by the sound,” said Wanda.

Jimmy smiled. “You’re so clever.”

“What about you?”

“It’s in my coat pocket.”

“Are all your sounds the same?”

“I’ve changed a few of them. Just the ones I think are important.”

“Like mine?”

“Yours, the kids, a few others from work. I like to know who’s contacting me before I have to look,” explained Jimmy.

“Well, I’d only marry someone as clever as I am,” said Wanda.

Another chime interrupted the ambiance.

“People are pathetic,” said Jimmy, shaking his head in disapproval.

“We’ve been conditioned to respond to stimuli. We think we’re intelligent, self-determining individuals, but we’re not. That’s such a myth,” scoffed Wanda.

At that moment, Wanda’s phone chimed.

“The kids?” asked Jimmy.

“No. It may be from work. Do you mind if I check?” asked Wanda.

“Are these working hours?”

“Technically, no.”

“There’s your answer. Be self-determining. Be an individual.”

“What if it’s important?”

“Then it would be a call, not a text.”

At that moment, Wanda’s phone rang. She looked at Jimmy and shrugged. He responded with disgust as she reached for her purse.

“I have to take this. I’ll be right back,” she told Jimmy.

Jimmy looked around the restaurant to see that folks were absorbed with their meals.

Jimmy shook his head. “Just a bunch of drooling dogs,” he mumbled.

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