TJ-the space wanderer
By Ed Henry
The space wanderer
A rocket landed in Central Park. When it landed, it blew a tire. The pilot got out, viewed the damage, hid the rocket under a newspaper, morphed into a 12 year-old boy dressed similar to a kid he saw riding by on a bicycle and set out to find a replacement tire.
Tuning up his antennae, the pilot listened to conversations of the many people headed to work, riding in cabs and buses, listening to radios and television, learned the language and decided to take on the identity T.J. from an ad he had seen on the newspaper now covering his rocket. The pilot had the ability to tune in on many things from miles around, while appearing to be normally focused on his immediate surroundings.
Finding a store with a window full of rocket tires, T.J. goes inside, takes a number and waits his turn. Then a clerk calls his number and asks:
Clerk: Whatll it be, son?
T.J.: Ill have a rocket tire, please.
Clerk: Sorry, we dont have any rocket tires here, kid. Try the toy store down the street.
T.J.: Sure you do, youve got a whole window full of them. (pointing)
Clerk: Those arent rocket tires, theyre bagels. You eat em. (takes one out of a toaster, cuts it in half, takes a bite out of it and hands the other half to T.J.) See, try it.
T.J. hesitates, but finally takes a biteWow! Thatd taste great with lox.
The pilot grabs a box of two dozen and bolts out the door. The clerk yelling for him to stop, but no one bothers to try catching him. He moves so fast and dodges so quickly, the clerk can barely see him. Hes just a blur.
Back in the park, and before he gets to his rocket, the pilot notices an old man sitting on a bench with his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands. The old man looks really depressed, so the pilot sits down next to him and offers him a bagel.
T.J.: Whats the matter, sir?
Old Man: Oh, its the elections. I think Im going nuts.
T.J.: Tell me about that.
While munching on a bagel, the old man explains everything to the pilot, who listens intently and sympathetically. It takes almost an hour and another bagel, especially since the pilot asks all the right questions at the right time.
T.J.: Gee, tell me more about that.
The old man covers everything from the founding fathers, through the Constitution, the Federalist papers and up to todays turmoil.
T.J.: Let me see if Ive got this straight. Youve got a boundary you call a nation and politicians you elect to run it. And for this, workers pay a sizable chunk of their sweat equity through a medium of exchange called money. You pay it in whats known as taxes so the politicians can hire workers to protect you and do things you wouldnt otherwise order for yourselves. Is that right?
Old Man (obviously pleased he taught the kid something): Thats right.
T.J.: Then, within this nation, youve got other boundaries known as states with more politicians and taxes to be paid. They take care of more things for you, right?
Old Man (beginning to smile): You got it.
T.J.: Then, within each of these 50 states known as the United States, youve got more boundaries known as counties, right? Each of these has more politicians and requires more taxes.
Old Man (feeling much better and beginning to laugh): Absolutely correct.
T.J.: And, within every county are Cities, each with more politicians, taxes and duties to perform, right?
Old Man (stretching and standing with a big smile ): Right on.
T.J.: And finally, youve got a home within your city that you also pay taxes on. Its your castle. And within districts youve got local aldermen, who are almost volunteers or apprentice politicians trying to work their way up the political ladder to bigger and better things. You can actually contact these lower-paid officials and complain about the neighbors dog, or possibly get some action on traffic control or street repair, right?
Old Man (now rolling gleefully in the grass with whats left of his bagel): Ha! Ha! Yep.
T.J.: Within all of this are things like sales taxes that you pay on everything you buy. Some go to the city, some to the county, state and even to the top federal government. But you also pay entitlement and user taxes on airports, medical insurance, Social Security and other things. These are all on top of every other tax, right?
Old Man (pounding his fists in the grass): Hee, hee! Hee, hee! Yes.
T.J.: And to top it all off, youve now got the politicians at the top talking about a New World Order where all the nations will get together to settle things and charge you more taxes, right?
Old Man (goes off skipping down the sidewalk, jumping and clicking his heels together while alternately singing): A-mer-i-ca, A-mer-i-ca and Who let the dogs out?
The pilot gathers his bagels, runs to his rocket, repairs it and gets the hell out of there as fast as he can.
Back on his own planet, the pilot tries to explain the newly discovered planet to his friends. He tells them to just label that place EarthContaminated and tell everyone to give it a wide berth. There are only two kinds of moderately intelligent beings that inhabit the place: workers and parasites. The whole place will either implode upon itself due to something called taxes which you dont even want to hear about, or the workers will destroy the place trying to earn enough to pay this fealty.
There are all sorts of things psycho-historians can try to figure out in the aftermath, try to classify from records or study from a safe distance. Theres pagan idolatry in what they call leadership. It means getting someone else to do for you what you wouldnt do for yourself or decide on your own.
The most sensible thing I heard about leadership came from a woman in another country who said: If you have to claim to be a leader, youre not. Right now, the nation I visited is arguing over two people who each claim to be leaders and, if the lady is right, theyre bound to end up without one either way.
Whats more, there are grown men with colored extensions of their tongues tied about their necks trying to talk over, out-shout, or drown out each other in a form of entertainment or news thats almost impossible to separate from comedy. Then theres all sorts of arguing and bickering over trivia before men or women in black robes. Judges whose role seems to be keeping people from all talking at the same time. These judges have a mallet to enforce order in a setting where truth seems second to something called PR. Its a madhouse. A system in oscillation.
I did discover one good thing, though. Its called a bagel, and its delicious. Its also easy to make. I think we can spread them throughout the sane universe. Ive still got quite a few of the originals, and our cooks are already putting out fresh ones.
Here, try one. But first, take a number.