So I wasn't happy with a side effect of my new work schedule, me driving home after sunset. I don't mind the driving home part, since consider the alternative, but figured someone could do something about the darkness.
I figured the people would be the Office of Sunsets, within the Department of Longitude, at right angles to the Department of Latitude, a division of the Division of Things, Places, and Precipitates, deep within the Weather Bureau, which is outside. They have telephones, so we don't have to do like our ancestors and yell out the window for a reply. But they'd at least get someone yelling back at them to shut up.
I could handle button-pressing menus. I'd listen to the recording's list of numbers for each department, notice none of them quite captures precisely my wants, not dial anything, and get hung up on. It was efficient. For the most complicated problems I could be done in eight minutes.
But they had voice-recognition menus. I do badly with them, partly from about giving up talking. If I actually said what I thought to say, someone might say something back, and I'd have to think of something new to say, which is where I started except for having fewer words left. So thinking of my half of the conversation seems enough. But that doesn't work on voice-recognition menus, which wait until you don't say anything and then yell at you in French.
Plus words I say get about halfway there and drop out of the running, except words I didn't mean to say. I'd looked out at the remnants of the night's showers and thought about the moisture and sure enough the system sent me deep into the Center for Moistness. A woman named (Something) (Something else) answered. I'm not good picking up names on the phone, or in other contexts.
I apologized, since that's usually safe, and said I was interested in darkness, not moisture. ``I understand,'' she said, and didn't sound hurt, ``we get that a lot. You know, there are connections between darkness and moistness.''
I said I thought there were but hadn't figured them out. She asked if I'd noticed mornings where there's this layer of moisture all over things and places. Sure; it's how I got here.
``And you'd be happy going on thinking that's from rain,'' which was one of many true things I heard that day. ``Nope. It's all teams of trained licking chipmunks.''
I apologized, supposing I'd got the wrong department, but she repeated it and the answer came out the same again. On another try it shifted to ``trained teams of licking chipmunks'', not much better.
They must get asked why anyone would train chipmunks to lick the landscape a lot at the Center for Moistness since I was barely three words in when she said, ``Untrained ones don't do the job right.''
She sensed my doubts: she asked whether I'd actually heard the overnight rains. No, I asleep. Wasn't it odd I slept through the rain? No; I've slept through many documented storms, fireworks, cat panics, and several sounding rockets launched from the patio. She was glad to help me see morning dew as another reason to never take my shoes off, ever.
``Wait a minute,'' I said, when I realized we had gotten off on some wrong area. ``We're still stuck with this darkness after sunset problem.''
Ah yes, she conceded. However, I wasn't considering what it would be like the other way around.
``You mean ... darkness only before sunset?''
No, the other other way around. Keep going around until there's no around left to get to.
``That's ... if there were a sunset before the darkness?''
That was it. The problems would be insurmountable. We'd look back on these days and laugh, the way we laugh at how in college we thought we were so busy when we only had eight hours a day to play Civilization and there were almost four Internet comic strips. I agreed, and thanked her for all the trouble.
Four days later I realized what I'd agreed to, and now I can't believe calling bureaus is good for anything.
Trivia: In the last game of the 1908 World Series, the Chicago Cubs's most recent series win, paid attendance was only 6,210, the lowest in World Series history. Source: Crazy '08: How A Cast Of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created The Greatest Year In Baseball History, Cait Murphy. (The game was in Detroit, and the Cubs went into it leading three games to one.)
Currently Reading: The Onion AV Club Inventory, Editors Josh Modell, Keith Phipps, Tasha Robinson, Kyle Ryan.