* Welcome to The Big Jewel, the second most awesome site in the universe. The first most awesome site is 1000 Awesome Things, by Big Jewel co-founder Neil Pasricha. How awesome is his site? Well, it won won two Webby Awards in 2009: Best Blog - Culture / Personal, as well as Best Blog - People's Voice Award. It has garnered more than 11 million hits. Now it has also become a book, The Book of Awesome, published this week by Amy Einhorn Books / Putnam. This week we are proud to present an excerpt from the blog and the book. When you are done perusing it, we strongly recommend you check out the links on the right-hand side of the this page. The one called 1000 Awesome Things will take you to the blog; the one called The Book of Awesome will take you to the Amazon page about the book. Celebrate the awesomeness of 1000 Awesome Things!

Awesome Thing #997: Locking People Out Of The Car And Pretending To Drive Away

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There are so many different levels to this classic gag.

There’s Version 1.0 which involves a car full of people, a gas station bathroom break, the locked door, and the slow rolling drive away while the victim knocks on the window and pretends not to care. This version is Locking People Out Of The Car And Pretending To Drive Away Lite, a tame version of the gag intended to induce a few giggles without any tense moments. Just some G-rated comic relief for the long drive home. Version 1.0 is the most commonly practiced version out there and is the officially sponsored and recommended version by 1000 Awesome Things.

Next up is a version that’s a bit more advanced than Version 1.0 but not quite at the level of Version 2.0. We’ll call it Version 1.5, also known as The Big Tease. The Big Tease works as long as the victim leaves their car door open. That open door is critical to pull it off. To execute, the driver simply waits until the victim is approaching the car and then drives away slowly with the door hanging wide open like a big tease. The Big Tease works fine on small or large cars, but is especially effective in vans with sliding doors. You’ve got that big van door just sitting there wide open and the victim may figure it’s worth running and jumping for it. There’s really no telling what could happen in this situation. Just remember to be safe out there.

Next comes Version 2.0 which involves a car full of people, a gas station bathroom break, the locked door, and a complete drive away, lap of the gas station, and return after a minute or two. Big difference here is that Version 2.0 dials up the fear notch a little, instills a tiny bit of boot-shake in our helpless victim. When the car comes back some name-calling goes down, but nothing too serious. Still — this one’s not recommended for children twelve and under. Let’s call it Rated T for Teen.

And then finally there’s the granddaddy of them all, the one and only Version 3.0. A real cooker, Version 3.0 involves a car full of people, a gas station bathroom break, the locked door, and a full-out drive away into the sunset, without any eventual return. The victim is left curbside, casually spooning up a McFlurry as they walk around for a couple minutes, expecting the car to come sweeping around the corner any second. But no…the car never comes back. Unless practiced in walking distance of the victim’s house, Version 3.0 can be devastating. And it’s rarely executed and not recommended for obvious reasons: its potential to destroy relationships…to destroy relationships…forever.

AWESOME!

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Fighting Words

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I will have no problem doing it. I will have no problem taking Tyson Dale’s face in my palm like a bowling ball, my four fingers lodged hard and firm into the upper cavity of his throat, my thumb screwed tightly into the damp recesses of his nose, holding him tightly in my unrelenting power grip of pain and pressure. I will probably squeeze my entire hand together a few times, both to show the onlookers my rippled biceps and to let Tyson Dale know that I am the boss and that I will make his eyes droop awkwardly and his face look funny if I want to. I will squeeze my hand and it will look like he is yawning and getting ready for bed. “I am tired,” it will look like he is saying, my hand forcing his eyes back into their sockets as he swipes weakly at my arm. “Sing me a lullaby.” It will be funny for me to see him like that. To know that he is actually furious at his predicament but at the same time looking up at me like he is tired and looking to take a quick nap. I am going to have to remember not to picture him in pajamas or I will laugh.

I am planning on using my teeth. I read in a men’s magazine that human teeth are one of our best defenses but most people do not usually think of using them when they are in a fight. The article that mentioned this was well laid out and was called “That’s a crock!” It was about an American tourist who barely survived a fight with an Indian crocodile while on an ecotourist getaway. He bit the crocodile’s eye out in a desperate attempt to disable the reptile and ended up sending him rolling down the sandy river bank into the Ganges. The picture beside the article had the tanned bare-chested tourist smiling in some blue swimming trunks while holding the crocodile eye in front of his own. I saw it in a men’s magazine and I intend to use it. I will see if I can get my own picture with Tyson Dale’s eye. I will see if I can fight Tyson Dale near a sandy river bank in order to send him rolling down it.

Tyson Dale thinks that it’s funny to steal my Ventolin inhaler and pump it out into the classroom. He thinks it’s funny to waste my expensive prescription medication. He took my Ventolin from my pencil case when I went to bathroom on Thursday and pumped it out. I knew that he did it because I could smell the Ventolin in the air when I got back. I looked at my pencil case and it had “Do Not Open: Fart Enclosed!” written on it. I looked at Tyson Dale and he just smiled at me. For a second I thought he had actually enclosed a fart in my pencil case and I did not want to open it. Then I realized that it would be too logistically complex to inconspicuously fart into a pencil case during class. I realized that, instead, he just stole and wasted my medicine. He stole something that I need to live. My breathing gun, is what my mom and I call it. He stole my breathing gun. “Where’s your breathing gun?” she’ll call out as I grab my lunch and head out the door. “I got it mom,” I’ll yell back. “I have my gun.”

That is why I think stealing Tyson Dale’s eye will be fair revenge. I had to go to the office to call my mom so she could bring me another breathing gun when I finished the rest of mine. Tyson Dale does not even need to call his mom to bring him another eye. He can start using his good eye right away. He might have to turn his head a bit to see all the homework on the blackboard, but he definitely won’t have to embarrass himself by asking the school secretary if he can use the phone.

“That’s a crock!” also had sidebar with shorter stories about other people who have lived to tell of heroic fights with animals. A businessman visiting Ethiopia went on a guided tour of a lake to see flamingos, but ended up getting his motor boat attacked by a hippo. The animal bit into his boat and his tour guide fell backwards into the water. Just as the hippo was swimming around the boat towards the guide the businessman took off his Tilley Hat and wedged it down the animal’s throat, causing it to gag and swim away. He helped the guide back into the boat and they continued on their trip. The businessman said it wasn’t worth going to see flamingos in the wild anyway, since they are not even pink because there is not much shrimp for them to eat in Ethiopia. He recommended just going to the zoo. I think that is a good recommendation. I also think it is a good recommendation to always wear a Tilley Hat to a fight in case you need to wedge it down the throat of your opponent. I am planning on wearing one to the fight, in case I need to wedge it down Tyson Dale’s throat.

I have found that the top of a shot glass is a pretty good double for an eye cavity because it is about the same size, it is hard and circular, and has a deep space in the middle. What I do is I put a spoon of honey in the shot glass and then a peeled grape on top of that. The honey keeps the grape from wobbling about and it gives it a thick cushion so you can push it around a bit without knocking it out. It is not far from a real eye. With some practice I am able to suck the grape out of the shot glass in under ten seconds with my hands behind my back. When Tyson Dale and I crash to the ground in a kicking and punching mess of snot, denim and hair, I will focus on getting him into my unrelenting power grip of pain and pressure and then I will aim my mouth right at his eye. I will picture the shot glass, with his cold and beady grape daring me and challenging me to toss one back.

And then, when I’m ready, I will toss one back.

And that will be the end of Tyson Dale.

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A Tour Of The Zoo

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(Sound of birds chirping and children laughing.)

Oh, hello! And welcome to the Metropolitan Zoo’s Audio Guidebook. Thank you for joining us today on a beautiful listen through the zoo. Weather such as today’s weather is perfect for our tour, so let’s get going! Get your bags together, make sure you have your hat on, and we’ll begin. Press “stop” on the tape now and then press “play” when you’re ready to start.

*****

So! (Long, uncomfortable pause.) You’re blind. We know, it’s pretty rough (tuba blats) but you know what? It’s also…good enough! (Bugle blares.) While being blind means you can’t drive a car to the zoo (sound of a car hitting a wall, and then a hubcap rolling away), it doesn’t mean you can’t take a tour of the zoo! So keep that chin up, those fists clenched, and that seeing-eye dog leashed, and let’s start by taking two hundred steps straight ahead. Press “stop” on the tape and then click “play” when you hit the Plexiglas window and feel like you’re in the shade.

*****

You made it! Congratulations on visiting the first stop on the tour. Now, to your immediate left are the grizzly bears. There are four of them either sitting on a log, sleeping near the pond, or not doing either of those things. Also, if any of them have had babies or died since this tape was made in November 1996, there may be a different number of bears, doing some sort of other thing, today at the zoo! Feel free to ask a fellow zoo-lover what the bears are doing. (Whispering.) And psst, maybe make a lighthearted joke about your blindness to alleviate the tension! We recommend saying, “Bear with me, I can bearly see these things — do you mind telling me what they’re doing now?” (Normal voice.) Press “stop” on the tape now to ask some questions and then press “play” when you’re ready to hear more about bears.

*****

Thanks for coming back to the tour. And now that you know what the bears are doing let’s try and picture what they look like. First, take a second and touch your own face. See how your nose juts out of your head like that? Don’t worry, it’s normal! Ha ha ha ha ha HA HA HA HA HA!!! Now. Picture your nose jutting out several more inches! Oh and by the way, an inch is approximately the size of half your thumb. And…sorry, but just so we’re clear, the thumb is that short fat finger on your hand. Now, did you picture a longer nose? Good. Now touch your teeth. See how pointy they are? Imagine they were much more pointy. This is what a bear looks like. Much more pointy teeth and a bigger, more extended nose. Now picture attaching a dinner roll to the bottom of your spine and you’ll have yourself a bear’s tail. Rowrrr! You’re a bear! You want to eat berries! You like fish! You will potentially maul and viciously murder campers! Ha ha ha! (Pause.) Now please stop the tape, walk fifty feet north-northwest, and press “play” again. Remember, if you get lost, just raise your hands and clap them together three times (sound of three claps) so one of our zoo tour guides will come and help you. Okay, and stop the tape…now!

*****

Welcome back! And congratulations on braving the walk across that rickety rope bridge over the extremely dangerous alligator pit!…Ha ha ha! Just kidding! You actually just walked through the Asian Pavilion themed food court. (Sound of a gong smash.) Go on. Take a whiff. (Sound of a nose sniffing.) You’re probably smelling soy sauce and chicken balls that someone spilled on the ground. Now, is your seeing-eye dog barking? If so, that’s unfortunately against zoo policy and you may be asked to leave. Also, it’s probably because we’re at the wolf pen! That’s right — dogs tend to know their own, and wolves — or Canis lupus — are actually an ancestor of today’s common domestic dog. What’s your dog’s name, anyway? (Pause.) Oh, that’s a nice name! I also have one called that.

One thing you probably haven’t noticed about the wolf pen is that there are wolves in it. That’s right — as you listen to this tape, a pack of wolves is undoubtedly performing incredibly wolflike activities, including making wolf noises, looking like a wolf, and walking in a wolflike fashion. Take your time to enjoy the wolves (sound of a nose sniffing) and then, when you’re ready, stop the tape and take seventy steps to your immediate right. Stop when you hit a metal rail and hear splashing.

Hello again! And welcome to the penguin area! Directly in front of you right now are penguins likely sunning themselves and waddling around looking for fish. Penguins, like you and me, walk. But unlike me, and potentially unlike you, they walk funny. Have you ever dropped your pants and then tried to walk around while they were still around your ankles? Pretty awkward, right? Well, guess what! This is how penguins walk around all day! Also, have you ever worn a tuxedo? Like to a wedding or something? It’s like clothes, but nicer? Some people say that it looks like penguins are wearing tuxedos due to the black and white color of their feathers. By the way, black is the color of your eyelids when you’re going to sleep and white is the color of your eyelids when you stare directly at the sun, the hot part of the sky. And … well, penguins are pretty weird, basically. And bears are, too. And so are wolves. For the most part, going to the zoo is like meeting all these weird versions of yourself, and instead of doing things like you, they do things unlike you. That’s what going to the zoo is all about! Meeting weird-yous.

Please stop the tape, turn around, and take sixty steps straight ahead.

*****

Welcome back to the zoo entrance. We hope you have enjoyed a brief tour of the Metropolitan Zoo and we hope you come back soon. By the way, we are requesting funds in our budget to put together a new tape each year, so we will introduce you to different animals and pavilions each time you come. If you’re listening to a really old tape right now, it means that we either didn’t get our budget approved, or the rental clerk was all out of the current tape and figured you wouldn’t notice. Either way, thanks!

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Chez Five Day Forecast: Our Chef’s Selections

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Sunday


Medley of fresh baby clouds tossed with a generous helping of crisp leaf-infused winds and served until late afternoon. Presented with peu soleil.

Monday


Slightly braised hail, served on densely marinated skies and drenched in eau jus. Add umbrella or hat $3.

Tuesday


A medley of exotic precipitations, seasoned with gentle sprinklings of sea-fresh water medallions, with subtle acidic undertones. Spicy.

Wednesday


Select farm-fresh rays of sunshine marinated in a rich blend of solar dust with a mild ocean essence. Sprinkled with crisp, stuffed clouds, on a bed of exhaust-infused air.

Thursday


Rich and seasonal precipitation nuggets on a bed of hair and clothing, lightly drizzled with light drizzle. Followed with your choice of climate-controlled indoor setting, or same. Healthy Choice.

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Executive Insults

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Wow, that’s a nice painting you’ve got in your office, Miller. I think I saw the same one down by the urinals at the Bowlerama.

No, no, no. Don’t worry, Cindy. This is great takeout you got for our team meeting. And I’m sure it looked good, too. (Pause.) You know, before someone sat on it. (Longer pause.) And haphazardly tossed salad dressing over it all. (Even longer pause.) And burnt it.

So, Thompson. Where’d you learn to erase a whiteboard? The School of Slow, Small Concentric Circles That Never Touch the Corners?

I was impressed by your e-mail, Henderson. You spelled two words correctly, which I believe is a new personal best. Congratulations!

Nice double Windsor you got there, Miller. By the way, I was completely lying. That is a horrible double Windsor you got there, Miller.

No, Tony, I wouldn’t say your voice-mail message is the longest and most convoluted I’ve ever heard, no. I wouldn’t say that. What I would say, however, is that your voice-mail message is not as unlong and nonconvoluted as anyone else’s ever.

Hey, Keri, do you know how to fix the photocopier? I hope so, because you broke it.

(Holds hand up for a high-five with raised eyebrows and an open mouth, then moves it away at the last second.)

Yeah, well, guess what, Steve? The mailroom called. And they want YOU back! (Picks up a piece of mail and casually tosses it on the floor.) Oh, whoops. (Making a mock-concerned face.) Can you get that, Steve?

Hey, that’s a really nice suitcase you got there, Miller. Oh…I’m sorry…incredibly outdated cell phone.

I’m sorry if I gave you that impression, Cindy. It’s not that I hate Take Your Kids to Work Day. It’s that I hate your kids.

How’d you do on your performance evaluation, Judy? Did they overlook your complete incompetence again?

I got to hand it to you, Miller. And by “it” I mean this pink slip. Oh, by the way, the Bowlerama called. They want their painting back.

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10 Increasingly Annoying Short Stories

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A Short Story, About Something Really Annoying

* You accidentally get locked inside your bathroom, which is full of mosquitoes.

* The mosquitoes keep trying to bite you but, just as you start trying to swat them, you realize that they may become your only source of food as the time inside this small bathroom wears on.

* You also realize that you are the mosquitoes’ only source of food and they will die if you stop them from drinking your blood, possibly depriving you of food in the future. So you take off your clothes, sit tightly on the toilet with your eyes clenched, and suffer mosquito bite after mosquito bite, just to fatten up the darned insects, so that you will have something to survive on when you begin to starve to death in a few days.

* Then, a couple hours later, when you’re covered in mosquito bites from head to toe, your buddy Ralph comes by and unlocks the bathroom door.

Moral: Do not lock yourself in a bathroom.


***


An Even Shorter Story, About Something Even More Annoying

* All the vacations to Belgium and France are booked up for spring break, so you settle for a trip to the slums of Colombia.

* Determined to still experience the taste of some fresh croissants purchased from a local bakery, you walk around the streets of Colombia until you find a bakery with a sign outside reading “We Are A Local Bakery Serving Fresh Croissants, Much Like A Similar Bakery Would In France.”

* You enter the bakery and are viciously beaten with a plastic bag full of stale rock-hard Kaisers.

Moral: Feel free to get locked in a bathroom. Just don’t try to buy croissants from a Colombian bakery again.


***


An Even Shorter Story Than The Shorter Story, And Definitely More Annoying

* You accidentally get locked inside a bathroom in a local Colombian bakery while attempting to buy a lemon tart.

* There are no mosquitoes inside this bathroom which you could fatten up on your own blood to eat later.

* There is, however, a ruthless baker covered in tattoos named Salianto inside the bathroom, who proceeds to pummel you to death with a bag full of stale rock-hard Kaisers and a comically large rolling pin.

Moral: Okay, add back the first moral about not locking yourself in bathrooms. And change the second moral to include all baked goods, not just croissants.


***


Even Shorter Than The Last Story, And Even More Annoying Too, Even Though The Last Story Included Your Own Death Which Probably Really Burned You Up

* At your funeral, your friend Ralph does the eulogy, and he tells everyone about how you were killed by being beaten with a bag full of stale rock-hard Kaisers and a comically large rolling pin.

* Everyone laughs, and a few people make rolling-pin gestures.

Moral: In the future, make sure morals from your past really annoying stories include more details about how to avoid death.


***


A Shorter Story That’s Possibly Even More Annoying Than Dying and Having Your Friends Laugh At You At Your Funeral, If That’s Even Possible

* During the funeral, your long-lost brother Raoul, separated from you at birth, runs into the room with a suitcase in each hand, a scrapbook with old newspaper clippings hinting at your whereabouts, and two tickets to France for spring break.

Moral: Who told you to go to Colombia anyway? I don’t remember the moral of the first story mentioning that sensible piece of advice. Clearly, there are a lot of issues at work here, not the least of which is your jaunting off to dangerous South American slums and killing yourself. What’s the point of morals if you never take their advice?


***


The Story Where You Enter The Action In The First Person, Blow The Increasingly-Shorter-Story Rules Out Of The Water, And Come To Near Blows With Your Moral-Spouting Alter-Identity

* I’m not to blame here! Who knew that a ruthless baker would beat me to death inside a Colombian bakery? Nobody, that’s who. Your pointless morals certainly didn’t warn me. Don’t eat croissants? What kind of moral is that?

Moral: You’re so predictable and whiny. I could have just read the title and skipped the body of the story, that’s how predictable you are. You’ll probably argue with me in the title of the next story. Get ready everyone, here it comes!


***


The Death Of The Moral-Spouting Alter-Identity

* If what you say is true, then this should probably kill you once and for all.

Moral: Ah, but it didn’t. And do you know why?


***


The Story Where The Moral-Spouting Alter-Identity Reveals That He Has Taken Control Of The Story Titles And Can Never Die

* No!

Moral: Oh yes!


***


What’s The Point Of Going On? The Hero Is Dead. He was Killed In A Colombian Bakery. He Isn’t Coming Back. The Only Real Mystery Left In This Story Is The Identity Of Me, The Moral-Spouting Alter-Identity Who, For Some Reason, Takes Great Pleasure In Abusing Our Hero

* Ralph? Is that you? Thanks for letting me out of the bathroom, man, but seriously, what’s up? The funeral thing was pretty funny, but these shenanigans have gone too far. A joke’s a joke, man. Ralph? Lay off it. Please just let me rest.

Moral: Say hello to your brother.


***


The Ultimate End

* Raoul, no! But why! Why!

Moral: Because I wanted to go to France! I spent months trying to find you, and bought non-refundable airline tickets so we could go on a vacation together and learn about each other’s lives. I wanted to spend time with you. I wanted us to be together. But what do I find when I finally get to you? You’re dead, man. You went on a stupid Spring Break trip and got yourself killed. I missed the flight to France because of your wake. I will never forgive you for the heartbreak you’ve caused me. I will always desire what I cannot have. So rest, dear brother. But do not rest in peace.

Moral: Don’t buy nonrefundable airline tickets

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Urgent Memo To All Employees!!!

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To: All Employees, Bolt & Westinghouse

Greetings workers,

Background

Last month Bolt & Westinghouse hired Tim Egan, a renowned company efficiency expert from Q Inc., to evaluate our business and recommend us some efficiency tips. Last night in our monthly executive meeting Tim presented the results of his analysis, which included ten time-saving tips for improving the work efficiency at Bolt & Westinghouse. We have decided to fully implement all ten of these tips TODAY. We have no time to waste, friends. After reading this email, please print it out and read it again. After you are done, please read it again. After you are done, please read it once more, tear it into shreds, and then swallow it. Welcome! We are a new, revitalized company today! The following changes take effect in twenty minutes:

Change 1

To save the time of writing out “Bolt & Westinghouse” or saying “Bolt & Westinghouse” the name Bolt & Westinghouse is changed to simply B. This is the last time you will ever hear the name Bolt & Westinghouse: Bolt & Westinghouse.

Change 2

We have installed an electric oven burner onto all B bathroom counters. From now on a big metal pail full of soapy water will remain warm by sitting on that oven burner, and another pail of matted face towels will sit beside it. Please dip dirty hands once into each pail and then return to your desks to continue working.

Change 3

The question “How was your weekend?” is replaced by two raised eyebrows, and the reply “Good thanks, how was yours?” is replaced by a smile and a nod.

Change 4

The elevator doors have now been programmed to open and close at twice the current speed. Standing in the way of the doors to prevent them from closing will cause them to close even faster.

Change 5

All emails will now fit the B email template. The template is as follows:

1. Topic

2. Content

3. The word ‘pleasantry’

4. Initials/Job Title/Company Name

Change 6

We have placed the company stock quote, company policies, and company directory online at the company intranet site. As a result, access has been blocked to the following Web sites: All Web sites.

Change 7

BT, the new B nurse, will be circulating the floors and shaving everyone’s heads on Monday mornings. All mirrors will be removed from the bathrooms. And trust us, your hair looks fine, so there is no need to care for it in any way which requires time.

Change 8

Pay day has been changed from every other Thursday to January 1st of each year. Please budget accordingly.

Change 9

The menu in the cafeteria has changed. Instead of omelets and made-to-order pastas, we will be offering omelet shakes and made-to-order pastas juice.

Change 10

All employees, job titles, and days of the week will now only be referred to by initials.

Welcome to the first M morning at B!

Pleasantry,

WW

P

B

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To My Pal On Vacation

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To all the gang back at A&T Concrete,

What’s up!!! Panama is amazing!!! Cindy and I went swimming today and I saw this amazing fish. You guys should come here on your next vacation!!! Wish you were here!!!

Frank

****************************************************************

Dear Frank,

It’s Al. Thank you for your postcard. Me and the guys back at the plant read it this morning during our smoke break. Eddie grabbed it from the mail room, and he read it aloud while we all puffed casually on our cigarettes outside in the cold. A few guys made wisecracks about girls in bikinis, and a couple others just coughed and dug holes in the ground with their boot heels. Hal decided right there to get that elective stomach surgery he’d been thinking about. Basically, your message touched us all Frank, if in different ways. Thank you so much for writing.

I wasn’t sure if you were looking for replies from us, Frank, but your message hit hard with me especially and I thought it was only fair to send you a note back. Work has been dragging me down lately, and I’ve been giving more thought to whatever years I may have left in this aging body of mine. Being the oldest guy here isn’t always so easy. In fact, sometimes, I think it’s pretty dang hard. Frank, my friend, I really need to talk. Can you spare a few minutes to listen?

It’s late, but I don’t care if I sleep in tomorrow morning and get to work at lunch time. For me, Frank, business at A&T Concrete has become too rhythmic, too expected, and sometimes, just too much. The band on the 5-DW mixer snapped last week, my friend, and with it snapped the window of complacency through which I’ve been viewing my dull, lifeless existence.

Your note has inspired me, Frank. Your hurried tone means you’re in a rush, a vague sensation I barely remember. Your numerous exclamation marks mean you’re excited, a distant feeling I can barely recall.

As the years inside this concrete plant slowly turn into decades, my soft hands turn into a wrinkled study in debilitating arthritis, my diversified investment portfolio crumbles like an ill-built Jenga tower, and my gentle ease and simple charm with the world around me turns into a furious, clenching desire to live my last few moments on this horrid planet in a climactic combination of excess, luxury, and sin.

I want to be like you, Frank. That’s why I’m coming to Panama.

When I get there I want to have a gorgeous view from a cabana on the white sands of the Pacific Ocean. I want a topless beach attendant, tanned golden brown, to serve me fresh squeezed papaya juice in a coconut half while I playfully tease a family of spider monkeys who have developed an interest in my new lip piercing.

I want the beach attendant’s supple breasts to sensually graze my arm, her sharp dark eyes capturing mine knowingly while she grasps my open hand. And, as the piercing summer sun slowly fades to a dark orange, as another warm day gives way to the beginning of another white hot night, I want to quickly gather my cashmere robe, my platinum earrings, and my new Blackberry and saunter back to the cabana with her in my arm.

I don’t want to be dreaming of U-shaped blocks of concrete like I am now, Frank. I don’t want to wake up sweating every night, and then limp to the kitchen for a glass of warm, salty Metamucil and a worried review of my bank book.

I want to trudge off with the attendant to my cabana, Frank, my bony arm around her taut, sandy waist, with all the unmentionables about to be mentioned, with all the deeds of sin coming to heed on top of my crumpled rented sheets. As our lips meet for a wet kiss of unbridled passion, as I tug playfully on her braided hair, and as she slides her silky hand through my new designer toupee, I want shivers of agony and ecstasy to shoot like bolts through my body. In view then out again, on top then underneath again, I need to feel those bolts of agony and ecstasy, Frank. I want those bolts of agony and ecstasy, Frank.

I don’t want to put in Sunday overtime for the three weeks in a row anymore. I don’t want to worry about Marty’s back going out again and then trying to figure out who will take his place. Frank, I’m sick of hearing Dan’s stories about the new tailpipe on his Civic. I’m tired of watching Rich’s attempts to get the lunch truck cashier to notice him. And if I have to do one more safety drill, I think I’m going to put the foreman in the HT-44 press and drop-kick the big, green button.

Book me a cabana next to yours, Frank.

Old Al is coming down for the ride.

Al Shrampton

A&T Concrete

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Korner Variety Monthly Newsletter

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Volume III, Issue VII


Finely compiled, edited, printed, and distributed by Paul Shemp, Korner Variety Manager


Greetings Korner Variety part-time and full-time employees and welcome to the 31st issue of the Korner Variety Monthly Newsletter. As always, this edition comes to you hot off our self-serve photocopier by the freezer and folded into your pay check envelope with a Scratch ‘N’ Score ticket. And now, the news!

Magazine Sign Upgrade


Our current magazine rack sign is in desperate need of repair. The current “Buy don’t read the magazines. Not the library!” sign has grown sun-soaked to the point where the black lettering has faded into an embarrassing dull brown. Also, the corners are dog-eared, the Scotch tape holding the sign to the TV Guide rack is slipping, and someone has written “you’re magazines suck!!!” on the sign in red pen. For our new sign I was thinking that we could go with “Do you see shelves of books and librarians here? No? That’s because this isn’t a library so please purchase your magazine before reading it!” I thought this new “added-detail” message might hit home with more people. Andrew, please make this sign on your new computer before you head off to college. I’ve left a CD of clipart labeled “Paul’s Personal Pics” for you under the counter and I recommend using the one of that duck in a business suit swinging the ball peen hammer at his computer. Please have the proofs ready for my approval by close of business Sunday.

Freezie Policy


As of August 1, we will no longer be letting customers cut the tops off their own Freezies. This new measure seeks to prevent getting little pieces of plastic as well as drops of sticky Freezie juice all over our counter. However, we will continue our offer to cut Freezies for customers. All other Freezie procedures remain the same, and I’ve included the relevant section from the Korner Variety constitution again below for anyone who forgets:

By-Law 4: Customer Protocol

Part III: Freezie Procedures

i) When cutting Freezie tops make sure to cut across the entire Freezie (no corner-cuts or half-cuts).

ii) Rotate the Freezie stock every Monday and Thursday. Keep the white and yellow Freezies near the top because they rotate slower.

iii) If people ask you what flavor a certain color of Freezie is, remember that red is cherry, purple is grape, orange is orange, yellow is banana, and blue and white are mysteriously unknown.

iv) If a customer asks if they can cut their own Freezie, say no. (NEW!)

Candy Section


In accordance with our seasonal candy lineup changes, we are discontinuing:

* Jumping Gummies (brown)

* Frog Juice Liquid

* Too Sour Tummy Powder

We are introducing:

* Jumping Gummies (mauve)

* L’il Squishy Porcupines

* Elastic Balls: The Gum That Bounces

Jamie, can you return the remainder of our discontinued product to Sugary Distributing using a C-8 returns form? (The forms are located beside the Lite cigarettes.) Please write “Really STALE!” in the Reason section. I will modify our Point of Sale database to reflect these changes. For your information, the latest Sugary Distributing reports show that L’il Squishy Porcupines and Elastic Balls are now up to a 4.0% and 5.2% share of the candy market respectively. Looks like our candy section sales may increase this quarter.

New DustBuster


Because of the growing amount of silvery Scratch ‘N’ Score ticket coating scraps left on our counter, I have installed a new 4.8 volt Black & Decker Wet/Dry DustBuster below the video rental tags. I have added the following new section to the Korner Variety constitution regarding DustBuster protocol:

By-Law 7: Cleaning

Part VII: DustBuster Procedure

i) Leave the DustBuster below the counter unless it is in use.

ii) Do not bust dust when customers are in the store.

Letters


Thank you to this week’s letter writer. As always, please remember to send letters to letters@kornervarietyopen24hours.com.

Dear Paul Shemp,

You’re the manager of a variety store. You’re not the CEO of a big company. Do you understand? Stop saying that Korner Variety is a “horizontally-integrated firm” with “global expansion opportunities and a mission-critical path to success.” All your employees think you’re a loser. Do you do anything besides think about Korner Variety? Why do you even write a whole newsletter about everything? Get a life, Paul. Oh yeah, and watch out because I switched the Oh Henrys with the Junior Mints! Uh-oh! It’s CHAOS!

Anonymous

You joker! Everyone knows that we discontinued Junior Mints in May due to the growing consumer trend away from the entire mint-chocolate segment. Thank you for your feedback! Keep on writing!

Paul

Employee of the Month


Korner Variety mainstay and store veteran Andrew “Iron Horse” Windigan is the employee of the month! Congratulations, Andrew! Korner Variety thanks you for your 3.8 months of service and wishes you the best as you leave our little “communist dump,” as you jokingly call it! For his services, Andrew wins two popsicles, a bag of chips, and yesterday’s newspaper. Andrew, please have your locker cleaned out by Sunday. I’ll have your deposit back when I perform the inspection on Monday morning.

Making Change


With the installation of the new pay phone outside of Pizza-Savvy next door we have started getting an increased request to provide quarters to people. To capitalize on this increased traffic I have outfitted our counter with a selection of 25 cent candy. Neilson chocolate chunks, large-sized sour keys, and Grapefruit Explosions have all been placed next to the spiced meat stick section. Please try and upsell something using the techniques outlined in By-Law 9 of the constitution before giving out change.

Straws


We are continuing with our fourth test month with a new type of straws. The research results thus far (with the reason for discontinuation in brackets) are summarized below:

March – Straws wrapped in paper. (Too much littering outside store.)

April – Flexible straws. (Too short for tall drinks.)

May – Thin straws. (Bad for Slushees.)

This month we are going with spoon straws. I have provided Straw Feedback Forms under the cash tray and ask only that you have customers fill them out with pencil or dark pen. As always, I will tabulate the data and perform our regular set of analyses before making a final decision. Our quest for the perfect straw soldiers on, friends. Let us move forward together.

Submissions


We close this month by reminding all employees that they may submit content for the Korner Variety Monthly Newsletter at any time. I know all Korner Variety employees have been busy so I’ve set a Korner Variety FTP site to make submissions easier and anonymous. The address is:

ftp://kornervarietyopen24hours.com and the password is: “takeapennyleaveapenny”

Don’t forget that we have our monthly security review session later tonight at my house, and Richard Watson from the Dairy Board will be coming in an hour before we open on Saturday to tell us all about their new packaging changes and how this will affect our fridge shelving.

Thanks for reading, everyone!

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Dear Doctor Castle

By:

Dear Doctor Castle,

I think I’m depressed. I’m constantly wondering about the meaning of life. I’m constantly asking myself what my real purpose is here and then thinking that maybe I just don’t have one. Are these normal thoughts? Do I need Prozac or something?

Sincerely,

R. J. Kiplong

Algona, Washington

Hey R.J.,

I’m not really a doctor, man. My first name is just actually “Doctor.” I’m serious. People think I’m a doctor because of my odd first name but, I swear, I am definitely not trained to help people with their medical questions. I don’t have any answers for you. Sorry.

Sincerely,

Doc Castle

– – – –


Dear Doctor Castle,

I’ve been taking Flexeril for back pain for a few weeks now. Lately, my wife has complained about my lack of sex drive. Is this a side effect of my medication?

Sincerely,

Sanjay Duma

Greenville, South Carolina

Hey Sanjay,

I’m not a medical doctor, as you can see from my response above to R.J. I’m a mostly-unemployed 24-year-old graduate of Madison Community College. I got my education in VCR Repair and I specialize in Panasonics. I only got the temp job writing this help column because my uncle has worked for the paper for 15 years and he convinced them to give me a chance. So, I’m sorry, but unless you have any questions about the dangers of hitting eject before a tape is done rewinding, or the proper method for removing a stuck tape from a four-head Panasonic PV-V4021, I can’t really help you.

Sorry about that,

Doc Castle

– – – –


Dear Doctor Castle,

My oldest son “Murphy” recently confided to me that he may have contracted a sexually transmitted disease from his girlfriend. I would like to get confidential testing for him, but am unsure where to turn. Can you recommend something?

Sincerely,

Elana Matthews

Santa Barbara, California

Dear Elana,

I’m not a doctor, so this is just personal advice, but why don’t you just look a few up in the phone book and ask them about their policies or something? Definitely check it out though. My friend Dale got some bad warts from this chick he met at a place called Laser in Santa Barbara once. It was no good. Tell Murphy to stay away from that place. Also, if he gets bedridden or has to stay in a hospital for treatment or something, I recommend buying him a Panasonic PV-V4622. You can tape all his favorite shows with the touch of a button on that thing. It’s would be a fine machine for a fine boy.

Good luck,

Doc Castle

– – – –


Dear Doctor Castle,

What do you recommend for treating cuts?

Sincerely,

Yvonne Lee

Buffalo, New York

Dear Yvonne,

How about a Band-Aid? Incidentally, I think it’s getting pretty clear that I should have given this column a better name. I was thinking about calling it “Dear Doctor Castle, I Have A Question I Want To Ask You About My VCR”, but then I thought that might be too long. I also wanted to call it “Dear VCR Man,” but one of the editors thought that might lead to some confusion about whether I was a man specializing in VCRs or a man made out of VCRs. The whole thing is getting pretty frustrating, though. On a complete different note, who writes a letter to a newspaper asking how to treat a cut? Who does that?

Yours,

Doc Castle

– – – –

Dear Doctor Castle,

My grandmother “Rosemarie” has been drinking an herbal ginseng remedy every morning and eating a low-fat energy bar for lunch for the past two years. She’s currently taking calcium pills, Provera 2.5 mg, Synthroid 150 mcg, and getting Vitamin D injections. Her blood pressure is a little high but she has no family history of heart problems. Do you think it would be a good idea for her to start a cardio program three times a week?

Thank you,

Cynthia Drummond

Angora, Minnesota

Dear Cynthia,

Yes. I definitely think this would be a good idea. Please start her up on an intense cardio program, only instead of three times a week make it three times a day. And don’t stretch beforehand because it’s not necessary. And tell her to stop drinking water because it turns into poison inside your body when you exercise.

Yours,

Doc Castle

Dear Cynthia,

Wait, I feel bad about that. I’m going to level with you here, Cynthia. I’m a VCR repairman. I repair VCRs when they are broken. I know how a VCR works and can fix problems inside one. I provide VCR advice when asked. That’s all I know how to do. So please, if I can make this clear for the last time: Do not ask me for medical advice, and, if I provide medical advice to you, do not take it.

Yours,

Doc Castle

– – – –

Dear Doctor Castle,

Sorry to bother you with such a simple question, but do I take Amoxicillin with or without meals?

Thank you,

Alice Donson

Tallahassee, Florida

Dear Everybody,

Okay, you broke me. Are you happy? You people finally broke me down. I’m willing to accept that I’m not a doctor but, clearly, you people are not willing to accept that. In an ideal situation I’d be in a family room repairing a VCR right now. I’d be making the family VCR work again, giving people the ability to watch their favorite movies again, the ability to laugh again, to cry again, to make love again. In an ideal situation my skills would be used to better people’s lives, not to constantly explain myself. Not to apologize for who I am. Not to feel shame and regret every time I mention my occupation. But you know what? You people make me feel all of these things. So I would like to formally announce the end of “Dear Doctor Castle.” Enjoy your fancy DVD players and unbroken VCRs, folks. If anyone needs a VCR repaired one day, try going to school for three years and learning how to do it yourself.

Yours,

Doc Castle

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