Sunday, October 31, 2010

Military Time

Dear Military Time,

Stop adding extra math to my life. When someone says '14 Hundred Hours' I have to think, '14 minus 12 equals 2 -- it's 2.' When someone says 'it's 2' I think -- 'it's 2.' Granted, the benefit of military time is it takes away the pm or am at the end... but I think it's pretty easy to decipher whether or not it's a pm or am time by if the sun is out. If you aren't sure if it's 3 pm or 3 am, look at where the sun is and if you get glaucoma you must be in the afternoon.

Just when I thought the worst thing the military could do was invade my country without an exit strategy or maybe kill me, you had to come and bring your way of telling time.

Military time, why don't you do us a favor and stand 'at ease' and by 'at ease' I mean -- go away.


Another person who hates subtracting by 12

Monday, October 18, 2010

the Drive-Thru Guy at Carl's Jr.

Dear Drive-Thru Guy at Carl's Jr.,

Remember the time I gave you exact change? Remember the time that change fell through your fingers? Remember when you asked me if I could get it?

Somewhere between that moment and the moment I was on my knees, halfway under my idling auto groping for 43 cents, I realized what my life had become. Perhaps you sensed my frustration.

But sometime after the change was collected and paid, and I was long since gone, something else changed... in me. Maybe, I thought, there are worse things than crawling under your car for pennies. Maybe there are people who don't have their own car to crawl under... people who have to crawl under other people's cars for coins... or people who have to crawl under their bicycle for coins... or under other people's bicycles. Maybe there are places where people have to get out of their cars to eat at restaurants. Maybe these sad places do exist. Maybe there are places where the cement outside the restaurant is unpaved. Places with Drive-Thrus that are dead ends. Maybe there are places where the restaurants don't have food. Places where the sink doesn't have water. Places where the drinks don't have liquid. Maybe it is that way. Maybe things aren't so bad.

Some people may tell you that the large gaps between your fingers are a genetic defect. But could a defect that serves as a catalyst of gratitude be a defect after all? Of course not. Thank you Carl's Jr. man. Thank you for not being great at what you do.


A Formerly-Disgruntled-and-Now-Satisfied Customer

Monday, October 4, 2010

the Illiterate

Dear People Who Can't Read,

Recent studies show that America's rate of literacy is declining. Other studies argue the trend will not only continue, but worsen. You probably didn't see these studies because they were published in the written word, although rumors of a pending audio file addressing the studies are circulating.

Take it from someone who recently learned to read -- invest in some Dick and Jane books. Reading is important. In fact, I've found that learning to read has really bolstered my writing career. For too long I was writing but had no idea what I had written after the fact. Granted, I once took pride in being labeled as the "most prolific illiterate author of my generation" it wasn't until I started reading that I saw the statement in context and realized it was actually meant to be somewhere between a backhanded compliment and thinly veiled insult. As it turns out, one of my first books didn't have any punctuation, which made for a quicker read, sure, but it was arguably confusing.

Personally, I gained an appreciation for reading by watching movies. I've watched a lot of movies... probably too many. Did you know that they make movies in other countries now, too? You probably didn't. Here's the catch -- some of them aren't in English. They actually write the dialogue out on the screen. It's quite novel -- in fact, it's bit like a novel. Imagine a short book with pictures and occasional explosion sound effects. In the last few months I've read some really good movies. I really can't recommend them highly enough.

We need to be reading. And not just movies. Books. Magazines. Newspapers. Road signs. Even propaganda -- before we can dismiss it we need to give it a good read-through. Forget that old-fashioned, spoken hyperbole you are used to -- the most interesting propaganda is coming out in print these days. And that's not even just the subtitles on posters; I'm talking about entire paragraphs of lies.

For the handful of you reading this who may be literate, I encourage you to help those who can not yet read. Allow me to give some practical advice. When you meet someone who can't read, do what I do -- gift them a strongly worded pamphlet on the importance of literature or write them an open letter on the Internet. Change doesn't just happen, we have to do our part. You can't just wait around hoping people teach themselves.


The Literate