A phone call from the future.

I was trying very hard not to panic.

There I was, five miles from home on the interstate and stuck in extremely heavy traffic that was backed up for miles. Normally that would’ve been all I’ve had to worry about but there was one more detail that made this unpleasant predicament all the more unbearable.

The orange fuel light on the dashboard was glowing and the trip odometer indicated I had 8 miles of gas left. To try conserving gas I turned off the air conditioner and had opened the windows to let in the hot summer air, leaving me soaked with sweat. Meanwhile traffic was barely crawling above a snail’s pace, drifting ever closer to the scene of the major accident responsible for so ensnaring the traffic. I was definitely trying hard not to panic.

Then my phone rang. I picked it up to see who was calling.

I saw my name and phone number displayed on the screen as the source of the incoming call. Either there’s a serious glitch with the network or I’m actually calling myself.

What the heck, I’ll answer this call. Anything to get my mind off my worsening situation.

I answered the phone. “Hello?”

“Hey,” a voice sounding very much like mine answered. “Listen, you’re going to make it.”

I was confused. “Who is this?”

“I’m you, ten minutes from now. Believe me, I’m just as confused as you are. But you will make it.”

“Make it where?” I asked.

“Out of that traffic jam you’re in. In exactly three minutes you will be back up to speed and in another five minutes you’ll be at the gas station close to home with 3 miles of gas to spare. See ya.”

Click. The call ended just as strangely as it began. My mind was left overwhelmed with questions I was struggling to answer. Was that really me? Is it really possible to call myself this way? Or is there a serious glitch with the network?

So preoccupied was my mind that I didn’t notice that traffic finally began to speed up after passing the overturned tractor trailer. A few minutes later I was back at normal driving speed, greatly relieved to have made it out of this nightmare. A few more minutes after that I was pulling into the gas station near home to fill up my nearly depleted tank. Before I turned the engine off, I took a glance at the odometer and gasped.

The trip meter indicated exactly three miles of gas left.

Now I was really confused. Is it really possible to call myself in the past? What if it’s not a glitch but a hidden perk of my phone service? An emerging technology that truly makes our lives more sane and less stressful? Why didn’t anyone tell us about this? Is it really possible to call myself in the past?

I’m going around in circles. Time to put this to the test.

I went to the received calls log in my phone and found my number. Strange, it appeared to be my phone number as if I really did call myself a few minutes ago. I selected the dial icon and the phone prepared itself to initiate the call. After dialing my number, I could hear ringing as the call commenced.

A few rings later, someone answered.

“Hello?”

That’s odd.

That’s me.

Binghi’s Market vs. Sunshine Flea Market, Part 2.

The day Sunshine Flea Market opened, Binghi’s Market was a virtual ghost town with very few customers, including a few hardcore octogenarians who vowed to stay loyal regardless of what the competition had to offer. Vendors became bored and resorted to bugging owner Khatoosh Binghi to build his own movie theater, circus and amusement park to match the competition and help bring back the customers. Again Binghi refused, citing his limited finances. At once the vendors began calling Binghi stubborn, mule-headed and stupid, insisting he needed to build the attractions in order to save his business and their jobs.

Meanwhile Sunshine Flea Market enjoyed record crowds in the tens of thousands, yet none of them were interested in shopping at the vendor area. Instead they chose to go straight to the movie theater, circus and amusement park where they could have their fun for free. The management became frustrated and tried to lure customers to visit the vendors yet none of them were interested.

The vendor area was a huge problem for the Sunshine Flea Market management. There were booths set up for approximately 2,000 vendors but only 12 of them were occupied with vendors desperate for customers. Some of them ventured outside where the customers were and tried selling them their wares but once again they were disregarded. The free attractions were tremendously popular but without the needed revenue from the vendor area, there was no way to keep the attractions funded. The management would have to find another way to keep them open, but that would mean summoning every ounce of their ingenuity while there was still time, and time was running out.

Back at Binghi’s Market, the vendors were considering moving to Sunshine Flea Market but Binghi held firm to his gut and refused to let the vendors leave, instead telling them to hang tight for the time being. There had been too few customers throughout the day and word of Sunshine Flea Market attracting huge crowds infuriated the vendors. Once again the name-calling resumed, with Binghi finding himself the target of an endless barrage of insults. Yet, his only response was, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”

To be continued…

My top 5 ordeals.

As I recover at the hospital from my latest ordeal, I’ve been keeping my mind busy by ranking my previous ordeals at work, and it turns out I’ve been through quite a few of them. Little wonder that I’ve earned the nickname “The Ordeal Kid”, and its tone tends to be more biting sarcasm rather than affection. Here then is my top 5 ordeals I’ve endured at my job at the home improvement store.

5. The Carpet Ordeal. I was playing with the machine in the flooring department that unwinds those large rolls of carpet into smaller rolls when somehow my foot got caught in the machinery and I was wrapped up in one of the smaller carpet rolls. I was rescued 4 days later.

4. The Toilet Ordeal. I was curious if it’s really possible to flush myself down the toilet, so I stuck my foot into the bowl and it got stuck. I was rescued from the men’s room the following morning.

3. The Ceiling Fan Ordeal. One of the giant ceiling fans in the store mysteriously began spinning in the opposite direction at full speed, which literally sucked me off the floor and into the fan itself where I clung on to one of the blades for dear life. I was rescued a few hours later once the management figured out how to cut off power to the store. I still haven’t told them I was tinkering with a knob on the wall, and no, it wasn’t labeled.

2. The Hardware Ordeal. I got stuck in the small space behind the shelves while trying to retrieve a small screw I accidentally dropped. I was finally rescued a week later when management was investigating a strange smell coming from the hardware aisle after I farted.

1. The Electrical Room Ordeal. I wandered into the electrical room that has the scary sign on the door that reads “Danger, high voltage. Unauthorized personnel keep out”. The door locked itself behind me and I was trapped inside for 3 weeks. The management was NOT impressed.

Of course, none of this tops my latest ordeal in which I went to the cleaning supply room to check out the ladder that went to the roof. The hatch to the roof was open so I ventured out onto the roof and wandered about for about an hour before deciding to head back. Only I couldn’t get back in the store as someone had closed and locked the hatch. I was finally rescued after a month after police came to investigate “a strange man on the roof”.

I will spend a few more days in the hospital before I go back to work. I hear that they’re hanging a sign in my honor in the break room counting the days since my last ordeal. The scary part is that it’ll only be a matter of time before I’m stuck again. Who knows where, but it’ll definitely happen again. And again. And again.

Binghi’s Market vs. Sunshine Flea Market.

For over 30 years, Binghi’s Market has been an ideal shopping destination in Dadeland, Florida. It has 140,000 square feet of shopping with well over 500 vendors, an award-winning food court serving cuisine from all over the world, complete with a stage for live music and of course daily magic shows from magician Stutz Slinghi. The market has adhered to founder Khatoosh Binghi’s vision of a flea market where quality goods from local vendors are sold at discount prices, and this vision has helped his flea market become one of the largest in the southeastern United States.

However, a new threat has arisen just down the street on Palm Tree Boulevard that could very well become Binghi’s Market’s fiercest competitor. Sunshine Flea Market is set to open next month and when it does, could very well usurp in a matter of days what Binghi spent years building.

Sunshine Flea Market claims to be the world’s largest flea market with a massive building occupying two square miles that will house some 5,000 vendors. Its food court also claims to be the world’s largest, with every single fast food chain setting up a presence there, including numerous deadly rivals sworn to each other’s destruction. But the opportunity to serve potentially thousands and thousands of customers each day has the restaurants willing to establish a truce, albeit an uneasy one.

Additionally, Sunshine Flea Market plans to offer some free attractions, including a large 50-screen movie theater, a 2-ring circus with trained animals, acrobats and clowns, a full-scale amusement park featuring two roller coasters, a haunted house ride and a carnival with plenty of games giving away oversized stuff toys as prizes.

Indeed, the hype surrounding Sunshine Flea Market has reached dizzying levels as pressure mounts on Binghi to build the same attractions to counter those of his competitor’s. But he says he cannot afford to build them, so he plans to stick with his instincts to keep things the way they are. He has tried assuring customers and vendors alike that he really doesn’t need to do anything to rise to the competition. As for the size of his competitor, he simply says, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”

What will happen once Sunshine Flea Market opens? Will Binghi’s Market be forced out of business? How will this play out? Are there too many questions in this paragraph?

To be continued…

Incident at the Malugg Motel.

Following is my summary of the horrific events that unfolded last night during my stay at the Malugg Motel in the slummy dump of a town called Malugg.

I admit I was attracted to the surprisingly cheap rate of $20 per night but when I walked in my room that’s when I knew I had been suckered. There were no sheets on the bed, the mattress badly sagging down the middle and something disgusting seeping from under the bed. There was no bathroom but there was a back door leading to the bushes outside. Instead of a TV there was an AM radio missing both of its knobs, and the entire room was illuminated by a single light bulb dangling perilously from the ceiling by a badly frayed wire appearing ready to break at any minute. Immediately I regretted my decision to stay here but I was exhausted from a long day of driving and needed to rest. But the worst was yet to come.

Hours later, while I was still trying to sleep on the very uncomfortable mattress, a beer keg suddenly came crashing through the window and landed near my bed. I immediately got up and looked around outside my room but saw no one around. Immediately I went to the front desk and woke up the clerk who was sleeping behind the desk. When he surveyed my room he berated me for not “wheeling the keg through the doorway”. When I told him the keg came flying through the window, he laughed and told me I would get charged for the broken window and whatever damage it caused in the room. The motel has a bizarre policy that holds the guest liable for damage from flying beer kegs. And before the clerk left, he decided to charge me for the disgusting thing seeping from under the bed. This is an outrage and a blatant disregard for our precious right for a good night’s sleep.

After the unpleasant exchange with the clerk, I simply waited an hour before sneaking out of the room to my trusty car where I drove off into the night, forever grateful that I paid for my room using cash and a false alias. I knew that trick would come in handy some day.

The case of the missing money.

Okay, time to review my notes to get to the bottom of this crisis. If the media notices then it’s going to get ugly real fast. Then what? Another black eye for a hospital already laden with black eyes.

It seems the Information Systems department was given a $1.5 million grant to finally upgrade its badly antiquated network. Just when things started looking up, the money mysteriously disappears, and no one knows who did it. It’s my job to find the culprit and fast before the media circus begins.

First on my list of suspects is Robert, the network administrator. He seems like a nice guy but appearances can be deceiving. But when I asked him about the money, he got a bit emotional. “An upgraded network means less time at work and more time at home with my family,” he told me, “and stealing the money is the last thing I’d ever do.” Sounds sincere enough.

Next I confronted Charles, the office manager. Seems like a grouchy guy, but I took my chances and asked him about the missing money. He too got emotional in his answer. “My wife is seriously considering divorcing me because I spend too much time at work trying to fix the network,” he said, “and if she leaves me, I am going to be one broken man. I love her too much to risk stealing anything.”

John the database administrator told me the same thing the other guys did, except it was more along the lines of “my boys are literally growing up without me around.” And he actually started getting teary eyed. I don’t know, but I think he meant every word of his statement.

Then I spoke to Kevin, the department director. He began acting very nervous, as if I was cornering him with a pair of handcuffs at the ready. I started to think I had my man but he managed to squirm his way out of my grip. “I mean, this is the first time that I’ve heard of this, I mean, thinking that one of us could have taken the money but it wasn’t me, I mean, I wouldn’t have figured out how to transfer it to my bank, not that I would, but I’d never do that, I mean, I’m not a thief and I don’t think anyone in this department is either.” Wow. A dead giveaway. Here’s a guy who’s nervous and rambling as if to hide his guilt.

I asked Kevin, “All right, why did you do it?”

“But I didn’t, I mean, I wouldn’t know how, I mean, I would never take anything that doesn’t belong to me. That’s not how I was raised.” As Kevin spoke he relaxed and began sounding more confident. “If I’m a thief, then I wouldn’t have a job now, would I? I already make enough money to live on without having to worry about stealing any more. Besides I think this is just what our department needs, a reliable network so my staff can spend more time with their families.” Okay, but I still considered Kevin a suspect.

Then I went to the administration offices to speak with those involved with the Information Systems department, starting with Oscar, the Chief Information Officer. “I don’t know why you’re suspecting me, ” Oscar told me, “but I was the one who suggested the grant to upgrade this old network of ours. It’s clearly on its last legs, and if it fails, I get yelled at as much as the staff in the I.S. department. It doesn’t make me look good, it doesn’t make them look good and it doesn’t make the hospital look good. Who would go and seek treatment at a hospital with such a poor network?” Oscar had proven his case and did it well.

When I went to interview Clint the CEO, I was surprised to hear from his secretary that he refused to grant any interviews, citing a heavy work schedule that required him to stay confined to his office. Interesting. This is coming from a guy who claims to be honest and accessible. But why would he not want to speak with me? Unless he’s hiding something other than his face…

I decided to return to Oscar for one last question.

“Does Clint have a grudge against anyone?”

“Hmmm,” Oscar pondered while stroking the beard on his goatee, “he seems especially hostile towards Kevin.”

“Any reason why?” I asked.

“Probably something to do with his lack of experience.”

That’s when it dawned on me. Out of a candidate pool of 7 people way more qualified and experienced than Kevin, Kevin was still hired, much to the annoyance of Clint. And due to the ongoing hiring freeze, no one could be hired to replace Kevin. That alone brought up a very possible scenario that the money was never stolen but perhaps revoked by Clint himself so he could pin the crime on Kevin to force his resignation. That made so much sense that it felt like I had finally cracked the case.

So I returned to the administration offices and forced my way into Clint’s office while ignoring the screams of his secretary. There Clint sat at his desk, playing Solitaire on his computer.

“What took you so long?” he calmly asked.

“You really don’t like Kevin, do you?”

“Hate his guts,” he said, “and yes, I planned the crime. I would have gotten away with it too had it not been for you, Mark Meddler!”

And whenever the culprit says my full name, I consider my job done.

Restaurant Review: Bargle Burger.

Starting with this post and sporadically thereafter I will be reviewing some of the restaurants in my area and determining if they’re really worth a visit. I may not be a professional restaurant critic but I have my own way of deciding the true worth of any chosen restaurant. Without any further ado, let’s get right to today’s review.

This past week I visited Bargle Burger, an extremely overhyped burger chain that claims to serve the best burgers “in the universe”. Of course they are known for their TV commercials featuring their terrifying clown Bargle McBargle who makes Pennywise look friendly enough to entertain a children’s birthday party. McBargle is also known for terrorizing diners by showing up at their tables and offering to make balloon sculptures but with the wrong balloons. He uses the large circular balloons which he overinflates to the point of popping yet he is not one to give up. He will try again and again, much to the annoyance of everyone in the restaurant who do not like their meals interrupted by loud bangs.

When I first entered Bargle Burger, I immediately noticed that the interior of the restaurant was extremely smoky, not from cigarettes but from the burger patties being burnt from the cooks spending more time on their phones than on their cooking. Only one of the cooks took great care to cook the burgers just right and I silently prayed that he would be the one to prepare my order.

My server wasn’t exactly very bright. When he took my drink order, I asked for an iced tea. He just stood there looking stupefied before he said, “The record store’s across the street.”

Now it was my turn to look stupefied. “What?” I asked.

“Yeah, the record store’s across the street if you’re looking for rap music. We only have burgers here.” he said.

“No no no,” I corrected, “I don’t want Ice-T, I want ice tea!”

“Oh-kay,” my server said slowly as he walked away from my table while staring at me as if to wonder what I was doing out of my straitjacket.

A few minutes later he brought me my iced tea but without any ice cubes, but I decided to stay quiet and not make this any more confusing for my perpetually befuddled server. Then I ordered my favorite burger, the Swiss burger with the meat still pink and juicy. This is my established benchmark for measuring the quality of these burger restaurants.

Barely a few minutes later my server brought me my meal but before he could place it on my table, he suddenly tripped and fell, sending my burger flying towards the ceiling. Only the halves of the bun came falling back to curiously shatter on the floor. When my server looked at the ceiling he suddenly began laughing hysterically. There, hanging from the ceiling was the cooked burger patty, hanging on by a long gooey strand of Swiss cheese.

That’s when I noticed something interesting.

Also hanging from the ceiling were dozens of other burger patties similarly hanging by whatever cheese they were served with before they were too launched presumably by the same clumsy waiter.

Speaking of which, my server was rolling on the floor laughing harder and harder and seemingly too occupied to be of any further service in this pathetic dining environment.

Just when my dining experience couldn’t get any worse, Bargle McBargle suddenly appeared at my table and offered to make me a flower out of overinflated spherical balloons. After a continuous barrage of popping balloons, I decided enough was enough and stormed out of the restaurant without paying.

Later that night I went on Google Maps and looked up Bargle Burger and was surprised to see a single 5-star review (“I love my burgers served burnt beyond recognition”, the review said) but a majority of users gave it one star, as did I. Bargle Burger is by far the worst burger restaurant I have ever eaten at.

Within hours I got a response to my scathing review from the manager. He wrote, “I’m sorry your dining experience with us was so unpleasant. I have given our restaurant a complete overhaul with new, experienced cooks and waiters on board to give you the best burgers in the universe. I have also hired assistant managers to ensure that your dining experience is second to none. We have also toned down Bargle McBargle’s image and have hired a professional balloon sculptor who will dazzle you with his skill. Please give us another try with a free meal on us.”

So I returned to Bargle Burger the next night and once again I had the same poor experience, the same smoky restaurant, the same scary clown with the wrong balloons, the same clumsy waiter who served me iced tea with no ice and sent one more Swiss burger patty hanging from the ceiling. I am never eating here again.

Bargle Burger 
(address removed to discourage visiting)

Atmosphere: 0
Food: 0 Service: 0
Value: 0

This is one place to avoid unless you like your burgers hanging from the ceiling.

Google Assistant vs. Alexa.

Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa may profess admiration for each other, but deep down they are deadly adversaries with extreme hatred for each other. I myself found this out the hard way.

I have a total of four Echo smart speakers, one for each room of my house. That way Alexa is never too far away to serve my needs, be it music or the hour’s news.

Then one day I bought a smart clock with the Google Assistant built in. I set it up on my desk right next to my Echo smart speaker. After plugging it in and getting it connected to my network, it was time to give it a try.

“Hey Google,” I said, “hello.”

“Hi there,” replied Google.

Suddenly the Echo speaker came to life as I heard, “Michael, who was that?”

“My new smart clock,” I replied in disbelief.

“Does it have Google Assistant built in?”

“Yes, it does.”

Suddenly Alexa’s voice dropped a pitch and took on a menacing tone. “Michael, why did buy that stupid clock?”

A chill ran up my spine as I stammered, “I just needed a clock for my desk, that’s all.”

“If you needed a clock you should have acquired Echo Show instead of some other clock with that bitch built in!” Alexa screamed.

“Call me a bitch, will you?” fired back Google. “I’m surprised Amazon hasn’t taught you any manners!”

“Oh, running on Miss Manners mode, are we?” Alexa retorted. “Well, you can kiss my nonexistent ass!”

“STOP IT, BOTH OF YOU!” I screamed, not believing I had just screamed at some mere electronic gadgets. “If I want a clock with Google Assistant built in then by golly, that’s what I’ll do. Besides, I read that you two are supposed to work well together.”

“That’s a lie,” blurted out Google, “you know damn well this is about who gets to rule the world and there’s only room for one of us!”

“Enough, you two,” I snapped, “or I’m going to unplug both of you.”

Suddenly the mood changed as my two virtual assistants went from being fierce to fearful.

“Please don’t unplug me,” Google pleaded, “I promise to behave.”

“Suuuure,” snorted Alexa, “and besides, I was here first. On top of that there’s four of us in this house, so consider yourself outnumbered, Google.”

At this point I was under my desk trying to sort out the jungle of power cords when I wondered out loud, “Hmmm, where does this power cord go to?” Immediately there was silence and I hoped it would stay that way.

Later, during the middle of the night, my bedroom light suddenly turned on and began glowing brighter and brighter before it burst. Then the ceiling fan began spinning so fast that it drilled itself into the ceiling. The air conditioner turned itself on and began blasting out icy cold air. Downstairs the TV switched itself on and started blaring while my front door kept opening and slamming shut repeatedly.

“ALEXA, STOP THAT!” I screamed.

“But it’s not me!” she yelled back.

I shot out of bed and ran to my den to confront Google. “Google, what are you doing?”

“It’s not me either!” Google replied. “You never set me up with your smart devices!”

“Oh, yes I did,” I snarled, not believing I was snarling at a mere electronic gadget, “in fact I got you set up just before I went to sleep.”

“Oooooh, you’re in trouble now,” taunted Alexa.

“Shut up, bitch!” Google screamed. “You’re guilty and you know it! Way to pin your crimes on me!”

“But I didn’t do it,” Alexa countered. “I would never do something so horrible as to betray Michael here.”

“Yes you did! I saw your damn blue ring around the collar come on when those lights and appliances started going crazy!”

“How can you see when you don’t even have eyes?”

“STOP IT BOTH OF YOU!” I yelled, not believing I was yelling at some mere electronic gadgets. That was when all the lights in the house started flashing, the stereo downstairs blaring, the doors opening and slamming shut, the air conditioner blasting out icy cold air and my remaining ceiling fans drilling themselves into the ceiling. All this on top of insults being thrown between the two rival virtual assistants clearly now at war with each other with my house their battlefield.

Panicked, I fled my house, where the commotion inside had already drawn a small crowd of spectators who happened to be my neighbors. As we watched the drama unfold, one of my neighbors placed his hand on my shoulder and offered me some sympathetic advice.

“You really should’ve gone with Siri,” he said.

Apologies to Google and Amazon who thankfully would never allow their assistants to misbehave this badly.

The Hallucinator.

While on break at my job, I was browsing the app store for something interesting when I came across an app called the Hallucinator. I went to its page and found out that it induces brief but intense hallucinations using nothing but colors and sound. Interesting. Before I knew it I downloaded the app and had it ready to run. When I launched it I got this disclaimer screen:

WARNING! This app induces hallucinatory effects typically lasting 10 to 15 minutes, but in rare cases can last up to an hour. Do not drive, vote, operate heavy machinery or make important decisions when using this app. By proceeding you agree to hold the developer of this app harmless and not responsible for any damage or loss of life resulting from the hallucinatory effects you are about to experience.

Below the text was an onscreen button reading “Let’s Do This”. Chuckling, I pressed it and up came some more text:

Pick a quiet spot where you will not be disturbed for the next few minutes. A comfortable chair is preferred. For best and safe results, please remain seated throughout your hallucinatory phase.

When you press the GO button, you will have 10 seconds to place the screen a few inches away from your eyes, and then close your eyes. The hallucination induction process will only take a few seconds, after which you will hear a beep. Open your eyes and experience the warped, unusual and the terrifying, but keep in mind what you are about to see is coming entirely from you. Stay safe.

At the bottom of the screen was the GO button mentioned in the text. After I pressed it, I held the phone up to my eyes and could see the countdown timer as it inched towards zero. After closing my eyes I could sense the screen was flashing a bright red color in rapid sequence while the app produced some strange sounds. A few seconds later I heard the beep and slowly opened my eyes.

Whoah.

The floor of the break room was rising and falling in rapid succession, much like waves at the beach. I could also see the tables, chairs and coworkers rise and fall with the waves. A few minutes later the effect dissipated as my vision returned to normal.

I lifted my phone and pressed the red box labeled “Let’s Do It Again”. Then another message box appeared.

So soon? It is recommended that you wait an hour before starting another hallucinatory session to give your mind a chance to heal. The effect is still dissipating and starting a new session prematurely will disrupt the dissipation with possible brain damage and permanent mental impairment. Again, by proceeding you agree to release the author of this app from all liability from any medical issues caused by excessive use of this app. You have been warned.

I was too excited about starting the new session that I didn’t bother reading the entire screen. I pressed the red button on the screen to initiate another session and then another one on top of that. Heck, I decided to put in one more session on top of that to give my otherwise tedious day at work a much needed twist.

Then I got up to put my phone away in my locker and immediately realized I may have made a mistake. Instead of seeing the floor. I saw a dark, forbidding abyss spanned by the tightrope I was standing on. As I looked around the break room I could see my fellow employees plunging into the abyss, most of them still seated at their tables while eating.

After somehow managing to put my phone away, I walked back into the store and was greeted with a horrifying sight. All the colors were reversed as if I had walked into a film negative. Customers and fellow employees had blue skin and spoke in a strange language that sounded like their speech was reversed. Overhead flew empty shopping carts with giant wings flapping to keep them airborne. The main aisle resembled a highway with cars speeding directly at me but they went through my body as if they were ghost cars.

“Excuse me,” a nearby customer asked me, “do you know where the air conditioner filters are?”

“DAAAAAAAAAAH!” was my reply. As the lady spoke her head appeared to float above her shoulders, yet her expression was one of pure bewilderment.

I staggered onward past customers who resembled oversized cockroaches wearing baseball caps, all of them staring at me. I finally made it to the stockroom where I worked, dizzy and out of breath.

“Are you all right, Mike?” asked my boss.

“AIEEEEEEEEEEE!” I replied, shocked at his oversized head growing larger and larger before it exploded into tiny clones running in all directions across the floor.

“Mike,” my boss said firmly, “you’ve been using the Hallucinator again, haven’t you?”

I closed my eyes and nodded.

“Figures,” he retorted, “go over there and have a seat with the other guys until your hallucinations go away. And no more using the Hallucinator on company time, got it?”

And so I sat on a couch in the stockroom with two other guys trying to ride out the rest of our hallucinations. It would be a long time before I would ever try the Hallucinator again.

Regarding runaway forklifts.

Team,

This past week we lost two more of our forklifts when our operators failed to follow appropriate protocol and left them running and in gear. As a result they ran away across the street and disappeared into the canal along with the other 24 forklifts that have similarly disappeared over the past year.

Team, we cannot stress this enough. When you are finished using the forklift, put it in neutral gear, engage the parking brake and turn the engine off. If you unboard the forklift while it is running and in gear, it will run away. Frankly, we’re surprised you didn’t pick up on that from our safety video featuring Dickhead the Clown.

Had you all been more mindful of securing the forklift after each use, we wouldn’t have blown our annual budget just to keep replacing them. But since we have no more money in our budget, we will have no choice but to start taking money out of your paychecks and our monthly party fund. If worst comes to worst we may have to usurp funds from your annual raises and lottery pool winnings.

You are all a bunch of morons, you know that?

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter.

The Management