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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

The Home of Tomorrow, Available the Day After Tomorrow

My weekdaily walk from my car to the office takes me past a large condo complex. The building has been undergoing renovations for what seems like decades — it’s like they decided to install those newfangled ‘electrical fixtures’ at the beginning of the last century, and just never stopped updating. They probably said, ‘As long as we’re here, we might as well wait for granite countertops and security systems and fiber optic cabling to be invented, and install those, too.

They get high marks for forward thinking. But several million points off for having units left unoccupied while the contractors twiddle their thumbs waiting to install food synthesizers and holodecks and voice-controlled garbage disposals in all the condos. At some point, you just have to decide you’re behind the times and sell to old people. Not every place can be ‘trendy’, and there’s no shame in taking octogenarians’ money.

Unless you’re bilking them out of life insurance or false teeth cash. Then there’s a little shame. Possibly a lawsuit. Could be jail time. And plenty of crotchety old cane waggling. Which is something you never want to be on the business end of.

“They get high marks for forward thinking. But several million points off for having units left unoccupied while the contractors twiddle their thumbs waiting to install food synthesizers and holodecks and voice-controlled garbage disposals in all the condos.”

But back to the condos.

Lately, the owners of this perpetually-updated high rise seem to be concentrating on the outside of the building, rather than the inside. Perhaps they’ve finally exhausted all of the currently-viable options indoors, and are now ready for a few years of really cutting-edge landscaping to pull the whole thing together. Some kind of self-watering grass or flowers that bloom on command. Something overly expensive and complicated, probably.

(And I’m sure it’ll confuse the living shit out of any bees or butterflies in the neighborhood. Knowing this place, they’ll relocate those and install their own, anyway. It should only take a few more years to engineer bees that hum Yankee Doodle and inject aloe vera if they sting you. Why call it quits now, when a comprehensive paradise is so close at hand?)

I was walking past the place this morning, on the opposite side of the street, when I heard an odd sound coming from the condo yard. I’d never heard this particular sound before, and yet it was oddly recognizable. It was high-pitched, rhythmic and sounded a little something like this:

BWEE-ting! BWEE-ting! BWEE-ting!

By the third ‘BWEE!‘ or so, I knew it was the caution signal for some sort of vehicle backing up. The sound was sort of cute and whiny, so I figured maybe the landscapers had themselves a golf cart over there. Or, given where it was, some sort of sod-planting Segway. Or a Fisher-Price flower planter. Who knows with those people.

That’s when I turned to look, and saw the enormous mega-sized strip-mining-strength bulldozer gingerly backing over a section of the lawn. In no way did the dainty little noise coming out of it match the formidable size and scoop and wheels the size of hot air balloons. If I were an engineer installing the back-up warning signal on this behemoth, there’d be no wimpy ‘BWEE’ or ‘ting’ involved. If the real engineers had any sense of proportion at all, when this monstrous mound of machinery is thrown into reverse, a voice like James Earl Jones’ would bellow:


Instead, the thing makes a sound like some battery-powered Tonka toy, and you’re supposed to know from that Tinkerbell tone that six thousand pounds of Caterpillar steel is bearing down on you. It hardly seems fair, frankly.

Of course, for all I know, that big hulking thing actually isn’t made of steel. I wouldn’t put it past those condo weenies to have equipment made out of aluminum over there, or some kind of inflatable bulldozer doohickey. Only the latest technology for those bleeding-edge folks.

Now, if they actually get tenants in there before the year 2048, I’ll be impressed. Maybe they can offer bulldozer rides as incentives. At least until it backs up and mushes someone who thought the sound was an ice cream truck coming down the street.

Me, I like the James Earl Jones idea. Dude could make a little extra cash with some voice work, and there’d never be another industrial vehicle backing-up accident again. Plus, think of the Darth Vader lines he could slip in, just for fun. ‘Luuuuke… I am… BACKING THE HELL UP!‘. Or ‘I find your lack of GETTING OUTTA THE WAY WHILE I’M BACKING THIS BITCH UP disturbing.

It’s just a win-win all around, I’m telling you. Why am I always the one who has to think of these things?

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