U.S. Populace Lurches Methodically Through the Motions
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 99 13:30:20 -0700
Subject: U.S. Populace Lurches Methodically Through the Motions
U.S. Populace Lurches Methodically Through the Motions for Yet Another Day
The wall-eyed, slack-jawed U.S. populace, beaten down into a state of
near-catatonia by the relentlessly deadening banality of their joyless,
insipid lives, dutifully trudged through the motions for yet another
emotionally blank day Monday, sources reported.
Against all logic, the nation's citizenry, their insides withering
away with each passing moment, somehow managed to continue filling
out invoices, shopping for footwear, loading dishwashers, eating Whoppers,
pressing buttons, watching reality-based TV programs, vacuuming floors,
engaging in conversations about petty office politics, riding buses, sitting
in traffic, mailing letters, and tending to the little rubber mats people
wipe their feet on as they enter the lobby areas of vast, windowless
industrial complexes. How they managed to do it, no one can say.
The populace's minor victory of continuing to participate in the
meaningless charade that is their lives, sources said, was rendered all the
more futile by the inescapable realization that they must do it again
tomorrow, and the next day, and so on and so on unceasingly until the day
they inevitably die.
"Hello, Tri-State Amalgamated Office Supply, a division of Global
Tetrahedron International Unlimited, customer-service hotline, can you
please hold?" said 37-year-old Sandy Lindemeyer of Garland, TX, barely
summoning the strength to push the button activating her headset. The
incident marked the 13,227th time she has uttered the pre-scripted greeting.
After hearing a heavy sigh on the other end of the line, followed by a
barely audible reply of "Yes," Lindemeyer somehow found the will to press
a second button, patching the person into a pre-recorded, continuous message
loop telling the caller, Lindemeyer's 714th of the week, that his or her
call was important to Tri-State Amalgamated Office Supply and would be
answered by the next available customer-service representative.
Elsewhere, in the suburban wasteland of Schaumburg, IL, frigid housewife
Ellen Campion, 42, her face an impenetrable mask of detachment, drove her
1991 Toyota Camry through a seemingly endless sprawl of strip malls and
convenience stores, eventually arriving at the bloated expanse known as
Woodfield Mall, where she purchased a pair of shoes.
"This morning, as my husband and I stared blankly at each other's faces
over breakfast, I mentioned that I saw an ad in the paper for a sale on
ladies' footwear at Marshall Field's. He asked if I was planning to go, and
I told him I guessed maybe," Campion said. "So after he dragged himself to
work and I gazed at the wall for a few hours, I went to the sale."
Looking down at her feet, Campion added, "They're nice shoes, I suppose."
"Today is Wednesday," said Waltham, MA, resident Gregory Pafko, 50, an
actuary for a screen-door manufacturing company in nearby Plovis.
"Wednesday is 'Hump Day.' If I can get through Hump Day, I'll have made it
halfway through the week."
"Then again," Pafko added, "every day is Hump Day, really." Later, as
he does every day, Pafko headed to the company bathroom and sat for 20
minutes with a loaded gun in his mouth. Once the shakes subsided, he removed
the bullets from the gun and returned to his desk.
According to experts, as American society slides ever-downward into the
swirling vortex of nothingness that saps our wills, numbs our hearts and
freezes our very souls in an impenetrable layer of black, icy futility, the
importance of going through the motions only grows.
"As James Joyce showed in his classic novel of modernity Ulysses, just
making it through one day in this world constitutes a heroic achievement,"
Yale University English professor M. Clement Voorhees said. "God knows how
unrewarding it is for us to endure each day's pointless, relentless barrage
of non-events. I'm surprised we're able to do it at all. But continuing to
go through the motions is crucial, because if everyone stopped faking,
Voorhees then trailed off, remaining silent for several moments while
rubbing his eyes. "I'm sorry," he said. "I forgot what I was going to say."
In a perfunctory attempt to acknowledge the nation's collective pyrrhic
victory, President Clinton thanked and congratulated the populace Monday
for continuing to participate in the meaningless fictions that comprise
their daily existences.
"My fellow Americans," Clinton told a national television audience, "you
have truly accomplished a great feat today. By continuing to get out of bed,
wash yourselves, dress, work, shop, watch COPS, surf the Net with WebTV,
and put food into your bodies at regular intervals to sustain your metabolic
functions, you have shown the world just how willing-to-live the American
people can pretend to be."
Following the broadcast, the president endured several minutes of
smiling handshakes before excusing himself to the Oval Office restroom,
where he splashed water on his face, leaned on the sink and stared
unblinkingly into his weathered, exhausted reflection, wondering how he was
going to face the next day.
(c) Copyright 1999 Onion, Inc., All rights reserved.
© 1999 Peter Langston