September 1993 Sketchbook

Copyright 1993 by Robert L. Gidley. All rights reserved.

"Why should you always get a pretty girl from an escort service?" Paul was pacing the room, caught up in his idea.

"I mean, sometimes you want somebody you can just talk to, you know? Can you imagine getting an escort from some dating service and taking her to play pool in some sleazeball tavern?" Paul turned and fixed his roommate Chuck with a direct gaze.

Chuck smiled. "Well, frankly, I'd probably be interested in doing other things with her."

"Exactly! And why?" Paul paused for a moment before gathering steam. "Because you've probably spent $500 on her company and you want some serious return on your investment."

"Well, yeah."

"It's like renting a car. Would you rent a Mercedes to drive to Spokane? Of course not! You'd get some cheap car."

Chuck leaned back on the couch. "Yeah, I'd probably visit Rent-A-Wreck"

"That's it!" Paul spun on his heel and looked straight at Chuck.

"What's it?"

"The name! I'll call it 'Rent-A-Wreck Dating Service' and our motto can be 'They may not look great, but they've got personality!' " Paul started pacing the room again.

"Our motto?" Chuck did not look as though he liked the way this conversation was going.

"Well, sure. I have a moral obligation to help my friends make piles of money."

"You sound pretty sure about this."

"Of course I'm sure! This is the greatest idea since margarine! See, we'll offer both male and female escorts. We'll interview them to make sure they can talk about lots of different things. Then we'll advertise them for $25 a date."

Chuck looked at Paul disbelievingly. "$25 a date? How you gonna make money at $25 a date? You're gonna need to pay the escorts."

Paul grinned. "That's the beauty of it! We keep the $25. The escorts get a free dinner, or whatever, and at least an evening of conversation. Maybe they'll get lucky and find Mr. or Ms. Right."

Chuck shook his head. "Did you have any idea how 'Arrested for Pandering' is going to look on my resume?"

"We're not pandering, we're providing a dating service. See, because we don't pay the escorts, they're not actually employees, they're clients." Paul paused for a moment and paced the room some more. "I wonder if we could charge the escorts…nah, that'd be a little too greedy."

"This is not a good idea."

"This, my friend, is a great idea. First thing we'll do is take out an ad looking for escorts. We'll interview them and get, I don't know, three or four lined up. Then we'll take out another ad for 'Rent-A-Wreck' dating service. It's all low-budget! What have we got to lose?" Paul delivered his most sincere look to Chuck.

Chuck sat up on the couch and starting ticking off points on his fingers. "Our liberty, our money, our apartment, any morals we have left."

"Nit-picking details! We have a chance to change the world, and your worrying about minor details!"

"Change the world? How, exactly, is this going to change the world?"

"Because we are going to buck the trend of advertising! We are not going to sell beauty and sex!"

"We're not?"

"We are going to sell companionship! Conversation! Personality! We are going to give value to social skills! No more tyranny of the beautiful!" Paul leaped up on the table, "I know not what beauty others may take, but as for me, give me a woman with a good personality or give me death!"

Chuck muttered to himself, "I think we could arrange for the latter."

Captain Computer

I read in the paper today where the FAA is testing a new, improved system for guiding planes. Due to advanced computer technology, planes no longer need pilots. The pilot just sits at a computer terminal at the airport, punches in the route, and the plane takes off, flies there, and lands.

I wouldn't be surprised if the plane also makes in-flight announcements. "Hello, this is your pilot, XC29-4 Rev 2.3. We're flying at 29,435 feet and we're 4 miles, 500 feet, and 6 inches from Dallas. On behalf of our flight crew, NavCom Unit Y354 and myself, we'd like to welcome you aboard. The servo-mechanisms will be serving you salted protein snacks shortly and you may also choose to imbibe water ethanol mixtures with flavoring added.

"We should be arriving at our destination in 3 hours, 23 minutes, and 4.23 seconds, weather permitting. Have a nice flight."

As anyone who has ever worked with computers knows, however, things will probably not go this smoothly. For example, the computer pilot would no doubt be programmed to avoid bad weather.

"Hello, this is your pilot, XC2904 again, we'll be, wait, there's a cloud. We're currently diving to 10,000 feet at high velocity. You may want to fasten your seat belts to avoid impacting the cabin floor when we level out.

"I've detected some minor turbulence ahead, which would account for the sharp right hand turn we just made. According to my calculations, a simple barrel roll followed by an Immelman loop should help us avoid the worst of the bad weather. We hope you enjoy the remainder of our flight."

And then there's the question of typographical errors. After all, the human pilot (who is, we will note, safely on the ground) has to enter a bunch of numbers to indicate navigational positions. Suppose he transposes a couple of these numbers as he enters them.

"Welcome to our flight from Portland to Seattle. We are currently approaching Nome, Alaska where we will descend to an altitude of 500 feet and make a sharp right turn at our navigational point. From there, we will head directly for the southern hemisphere for the third leg of our flight."

And then there's the inevitable system crash. This will lead to scenes like this in the future hit Airport 2009:

Interior shot of Airplane cabin. The plane has been flying sideways for the last 20 minutes, and the head stewardess has just forced open the cabin door. Inside, the lights are flashing at random and "Mary Had a Little Lamb" is playing over one of the speakers.

"Captain?" The stewardess moves to the front panel and addresses it.

"My it's a fine day to fly, isn't it? Look at all the pretty lights?"

"Captain, are you okay?" Stewardess looks concerned, and notices that the lights are forming little smiley faces on the control panel.

"I'm fine. How are you?"

The stewardess gets a look of horror on her face. "Oh my God! The pilot isn't responding."

She backs out of the control room. "We're all going to die! There's only one thing that can save us!"

Quickly she gets on the plane intercom system. "Ladies and Gentlemen, there's been a small problem with our pilot control system (funny acronym?). Now, I don't want you to be alarmed, but is there a programmer in the house?"

Cut to a man sitting next to a little old lady. He has a pocket protector, thick glasses, white shirt and bermuda shorts on. The little old lady speaks: "Pardon me, young man, but weren't you saying that you were a programmer"

The man gulps as the little old lady calls the stewardess. The stewardess rushes over. "Yes?"

"This young man's a programmer! He can help us out!"

"Is that true, sir? Are you a programmer?" A note of desperation creeps into the stewardess' voice.

The man looks anxious. "I-I used to be…but, that was before the accident. I jumped to an invalid segment address and locked up the system!" He looks morosely at his hands. "10,000 people got their payroll checks late. It was horrible!" He looks up at the stewardess. "I haven't been able to hack code, since."

The stewardess kneels next to the man, with a look of steely determination on her face. "We need a programmer, and we need one now. I don't care what happened in the past, we need you to fix our pilot, or we're all going to die. Can you do it?"

The man gulps. "I-I can try"

"You can do better than that-you'll damn well do it!"

The man rises, strides forward to the cabin. The rest of the passengers anxiously watch him. Cut to the control panel where the man is furiously typing at the console keyboard. He stops, his finger over the Enter key.

"Well, here goes nothing"

The stewardess grabs his hand, "John, whatever happens, I believe in you. You, you can hack my code any time."

He smiles, and hits Enter. The plane rights itself. Cut to cabin. John walks through the door as the passengers rise to their feet giving him a standing ovation. A little 8-year-old boy runs up to him and says "Gosh, mister, you're a real hero, huh?"

The stewardess looks over at John and says "You bet he is!"

Fade to black.

Conversations with Kitchen Appliances

The Oven
The oven speaks in a confident voice: "Yes! I can cook that! Don't mess around with that wimp-faced little microwave. Use the real cooking method that's been around for thousands of years: heat! Give me a souffle, and I'll make it rise perfectly every time. Pizza? Of course I can do pizza! Perfect crust, with melted cheese. And when it comes to broiling, boy, I'm the champ! Just try that with some microwave oven!"

Microwave Oven
"You're just mad because I'm better than you are. Look at all the electricity you need just to heat up a cheese danish! And how long it takes you! Why, I can take a cold pastry and turn it into a mouth-watering, perfectly warm delectable dish in less time than it takes you to realize that you've been turned on!"

"Put some bread in me. Put some bread in me. Oh boy, you put some bread in me. Now I'll toast it. I'll toast it now. Dum de Dum. I'm still toasting, and enjoying every minute of it, too! And here we are! The toast is done. The toast is done. Time for some butter and jelly! Better hurry! Your toast is getting cold! Your toast is getting cold!"

Food Processor
"Gimme something to grind! I like to grind! Got any rocks? I can even grind rocks! Give me a carrot and I'll turn it into oatmeal before you can sneeze! Want some lettuce soup? Put a whole head in!"

Previous Sketch Back Home Next Sketch
Previous Sketch Back Home Next Sketch