Curbing the Public Nuisance
[Editor Note: Part
one is on this page]
Yes, that pillar of
society that has been with us since that slithery dude threw
humanity for a curve in the Garden of Eden - that cornerstone of
society has been automated.
I am speaking, of course, of the public nuisance ( I wrote about him
in Part 1 . )
No longer do pests have to come around in restaurants and train
stations and villages singing loudly and playing their harpsichords.
We now have machines to do that for us - machines like televisions
and radios and elevator muzak and backfiring Mustangs.
In the olden days, you could just throw a brick at a public
nuisance, and that would usually shut him up for two minutes - five
if the brick hit its mark.
But it's harder to throw a brick at a TV, because bar owners send
bloodthirsty lawyers after you, something the old-fashioned public
nuisances knew nothing about. And how can you throw a brick at the
shadowy creature producing elevator muzak?
So it was inevitable that some guy named Mitch Altman would invent a
high-tech way to neutralize those high-tech public nuisances. It's
an infrared keychain called TV-B-Gone that shuts off intrusive TVs
"Hey I was watching that show," calls out the six-foot-four, burly
guy at the bar. "Whoever zapped my show has five second to unzap
it., or I'll get off this stool." Oh, well. I suppose there are
still a few technical adjustments to tinker with.
But I was thinking, "Hey. I could invent something useful like that.
I could invent a high-tech brick to shut down those high- tech
public nuisances for at least five minutes." So I did.
First, I set out to defeat muzak. I invented a device called the
Automated Elevator Hostage Taker. I was so excited, I decided to
take it for a test drive. I found a really high building and headed
straight for the elevator.
Half way up, I activated my Automated Elevator Hostage Taker. "Aha!"
I called out. "We have your elevator hostage. If you shut the muzak
off, we will release it unharmed."
The other passengers looked at me like I had a purple horn growing
out of one ear.
"I said, turn off the muzak and your elevator won't be harmed."
One passenger was starting to get interested. "What the *$&% do you
think you're doing?"
I was positively giddy that my fellow passengers were so eager to
participate. One of them even wanted to get his hands on my
Automated Elevator Hostage Taker, but for public safety reasons I
couldn't let it into untrained hands until it had been fully tested
in both laboratory and field conditions.
"How did your test drive go?" my wife asked.
I looked up at her from my hospital bed. "I think the next prototype
will be equipped with life insurance."
Fortunately, I came up with another invention as soon as I
recovered. I call it the Tailpipe Plug-in. Cars emit the most
ghastly-smelling fumes. No. Wait. I take that back. Cars emit the
second-most ghastly-smelling fumes. Diesel buses emit the most
But those days will soon be over, as people arm themselves with
their personal Tailpipe Plug-ins.
"How does it work?" my wife asked.
"So glad you asked. It uses spidey technology."
"Spidey technology?" she looked puzzled.
"That's right. You know, like Spiderman. Let's say a bus come within
a few yards and threatens to belch out yucky black stinky stuff. You
just flick your wrist like this..."
SPLAT! BANG! CRASH!
"You knocked over my prize lamp and broke it. And what's this ugly
goop splattered all over the carpet and the wall? Yuck. Get it off,"
my wife demanded.
"What do you mean, you can't?" she raged.
"It's like that expanding foam insulation. No. Wait. It's like very
fast-curing expanding foam insulation."
"Well, what do you plan to do about it?" my wife wanted to know.
"I guess I'll have to put on a warning label - Do not use indoors."
Once back in my hospital bed, I realized I had not given the right
I still had many inventions left in me. Like the Automatic No-
parking Sign Dissolver. And the Perfumalizer, handy for use in
crowded buses where people hold onto bars and posts above their
heads. And I can't wait to invent the Escalator Fast-forward Button.
But for now, I am way too distracted by the very loud TV show my
hospital roommate is watching. I sure could use Mitch's TV-B- Gone
right about now.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
David Leonhardt publishes
The Happy Guy Humor Column
A Daily Dose of Happiness
The Happy Guy