! A time for life, a time for lists
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March 2001
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A time for life, a time for lists

NEXT!

(plump woman in her mid sixties sits down)

Ah, Mrs. Jones, it's good to see you again. You seem to be making good progress with your US States. I see that you've added Alabama and Mississippi to the list. If I have this right, the only states you have left are Alaska and North Dakota.

What's that? You say that you did Alaska when you did the cruise last year? That's right, you did do the Alaska cruise. We have to be careful here, though. It doesn't count unless you've actually set foot on Alaska. Did you get off the ship and set foot on Alaskan soil?

You did? That's very good. We can cross Alaska off the list.

(phone rings)

Lewis here. Hello Tomlinson, what can I do for you? No, that doesn't count. You have to actually visit Bulgaria. Just reading a book about Bulgaria doesn't count. Now do be a good lad and talk to your travel agent.

(puts down phone, turns back to Mrs. Jones)

I'm sorry about that. Tomlinson is one of my regulars; I'm afraid he's a bit of a sad case. He's got a long list, not nearly as long as yours, but long enough. The bother is that he simply won't go; instead of going to a place he thinks it's well enough to read about the place.

If you don't mind my saying so, you are a pleasure to work with; you've been filling out your list admirably. So many people have to be pushed to get their lists finished. I will admit that I was a bit worried about you in the past. You never seemed to go anywhere. All that is changed since your retirement. You've been very diligent in filling out your list. That's good. We like to see that in our clients.

Let's see, you've got all of the US States except North Dakota. Do be a dear and get North Dakota as soon as you can. It doesn't do at all to leave these tag ends unfinished.

I see that you've got all of your Canadian provinces.

No, you don't have to do the Territories; according to your assignment list you have to do the provinces. It doesn't say anything about the territories.

(phone rings)

Lewis here. Oh, it's you again. No, you have to write a book. Reading a book about writing a book doesn't count.

No, we don't care what kind of book it is. It can be a novel or a biography or even a cookbook. Your list says that you have to write a book; that's all it says.

(puts down phone, shakes head)

Some people!

Now Mrs. Jones, we do have a little problem with Europe. I know you did the Balkans a while back but that was before Yugoslavia broke up. I am afraid you're going to have to go back and do all of the new countries. I think we can help you there. Our travel department has a bits and pieces of Yugoslavia tour which you can combine with a Greek Island cruise.

I see you've missed Andorra. That's a common problem; many people miss doing Andorra. Everyone gets San Marino in the Glories of Italy tour and Liechtenstein in the Alpine Skiing tour. Andorra falls through the cracks; it isn't on the Glories of France tour or on the Glories of Spain tour. You might consider taking the Basque Moments tour; it's only three days and it does include a stop in Andorra.

Now about South America.

(phone rings)

Lewis here. Good afternoon, Mr. Soames, how can I help you? What? Now look, Enoch, we've been over this before. There are only two things on your list, publish a book of poetry and do something that gains you literary immortality. You should be grateful. Most people have lists that run for pages and pages. You only have two things on your slate.

You've done your book of poetry. Yes, I've seen it. Quite frankly, it's not too attractive but that's not my concern. Your list says that you do a book of poetry; it doesn't say anything about it being good.

No, I don't know what it is that you do. I'm not hiding anything; I simply don't know.

That could be done, I suppose. We don't do it here; that's in an entirely different department. What you want is the Specials Department. Talk to Mr. Modeus. That's Alfred Sloan Modeus. Tell him that I sent you.

(puts down phone)

Sorry about that. I'm afraid that Mr. Enoch Soames is a bit of a damp rag.

Oh no, he's not a very good poet. His book is called, let's see, ah, "Fungoids". That's it, "Fungoids". The title is the most attractive thing about the book, I'm afraid.

I see that you are in good shape with South America. You haven't done Paraguay but Belize is an alternate and you've got that.

Your Asian list looks good. You've got the usual - Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore, Bali, Nepal, and that lot. You still have New Zealand to do. Be sure and hit both islands.

Now let's review your famous tourist attractions and museums.

(phone rings)

Lewis here. Oh, it's you again, Mr. Tomlinson. Can I give you a waiver on raising a son? No, having a nephew doesn't count. It doesn't matter how many children your sister has. You can't have children by proxy.

Now look here. You're already on probation. It won't do to keep calling me and asking for waivers and making excuses. You have your list. It's time for you to get on with it and start living life.

(puts down phone)

You seem to be in good shape with famous tourist attractions and museums. You've got the usual - the Louvre, the Parthenon, the Guggenheim, and a fine selection of cathedrals. I see, though, that you are missing the Taj Mahal.

Yes, I know that India isn't on your list. I afraid you're going to have to do it anyway. You should have done the Taj Mahal while you were doing Nepal.

What's that? You're tired of traveling and would like to rest? Now Mrs. Jones, I sympathize but you'll just have to endure. Everyone has their list of things that they have to do and see in their life. I know that your list is a long one but you should be proud of how much you've seen and done.

I think that's it. We'll see you next year. Believe me, these little visits are a great source of pleasure to me. I look forward to seeing you again.

(Mrs. Jones leaves)
(Lewis whistles "I've got a little list" while waiting for his next client)


This page was last updated March 1, 2001.
Copyright © 2001 by Richard Harter

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March 2001
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