I was minding my own business when in walked a young man much in the style and appearance of the actor Harrison Ford. He stopped in the middle of the room, assumed a pose of thoughtfulness, and said nothing. It was clear to me that he wanted to appear cool.
“C.W.” I said. “Sup?”
His cool demeanor sank. Confusion spread over his face like ants flooding a hill.
“Sit,” I said, and motioned to chair opposite me.
He sat, but was still confused. “What does ‘sup’ mean? Is it short for ‘supper’ or something?”
“No,” I said. “The young folks use it as short for ‘what’s up’ when they meet.”
“Why don’t they just say ‘what is up,’ so they won’t confuse strangers?”
“Kids these days don’t converse with strangers,” I said. “Anyway, you seem to have something on your mind.”
He relaxed. “I do,” he said.
“And it is …?
“A new business.”
“And that business is to be called what?”
“Solutions Are Us.”
“That sounds like an interesting business. What kind of problems will you be solving?”
“Oh,” he said, “we won’t be offering problems. Just solutions.”
It was my turn to be confused. “You will create solutions for no particular problems?”
“A great business plan, don’t you think?”
“I’m not sure,” I said. “What gave you this idea?”
“The fascination that some of your species has with voter ID requirements.”
“In my studies, I deduced that someone saw value in a solution that would make it hard for certain voter groups to vote.”
“They needed a problem to fit the solution.”
“So,” I said, “it was a simple matter to envision voter fraud.”
“Precisely,” he said. “As they say on the Planet Santural, “when the solution appears, the master will provide the problem.”
“That planet,” I said, “is it an advanced one?”
“No,” he said, “very undeveloped, barely five tetra-centuries ahead of yours.”
“You have other solutions in your repertoire?”
“How about drug testing?”
“And what problems might that work for?”
“You name it,” he said, “voting, college entrance, financial assistance, home location, marriage, sex, cell phone usage, Facebook access, …”
“I see,” I said, interrupting him. “Any others?”
“Forced reading. That’s a good one.”
That got my attention. “And what problems might that be aimed at?”
He just looked at me as if I had given the wrong answer to a simple question. “For starters,” he said, “religious fanaticism, conservatism, addiction to fake news channels, internet-generated ignorance, belief in male dominance, bigotry. Should I go on?”
“I think you have made your point. Any others?”
“That’s a good one,” I said. “Lots of promise there.”
“Unfortunately,” he said. “It’s not selling well in our test markets.”
“Oh, and where might those be?”
“In what many people refer to as your Biblical-strip of leather or other material worn around the waist.”
“Say what?” Then it hit me. “Do you by chance mean our Bible-Belt.?”
“That is exactly what I said.” He stopped, took a pencil and pad from his pockets and wrote as he spoke, “Hearing aids.”
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