It used to be that when you saw someone walking down the street alone, ranting and raving about
infra-violet radiation or the CIA's plot to taint our nation's Dorito supply, you were pretty safe in assuming they
were a little unbalanced. Maybe even a lot unbalanced, or crazy, if you'd gotten up this morning
in a politically incorrect mood.
But that's a thing of the past, thanks to the ubiquity of cellphones. People used to be more embarrassed
about doing this kind of thing in public, but lately I've walked down aisles in the hardware store and in the
grocery store where people have been standing around, having lengthy conversations with their loved ones
and their not-so-loved ones. Sometimes these are conversations that you really wouldn't think most people
would want to share with strangers.
In an age when people are so often making a big deal out of privacy issues (enough so you see those
someone's marital spat or romantic plans for the evening when all you'd bargained for was a head
of lettuce and whatever kind of yogurt is on sale this week. (This, by the way, tends to happen a lot
more in grocery stores, in my experience. In hardware stores, you're much more likely to overhear
someone's marital spat or romantic plans for the evening while trying to buy sandpaper and drill bits.
If you're in the hardware store trying to buy yogurt, you have your own problems.)
But at least you can tell the crazy people from the (theoretically) non-crazies by checking to see whether
they have a miniature phone held against their heads. Considering how small cellphones have gotten
and how many colors and styles they're available in, this is more challenging than it used to be, but even
at worst, you're only going to get mixed up between the people with cellphones held to their ears and the
relatively few people who are determined to enter a Matchbox miniature collectible car into an unauthorized
NASCAR race being held inside their inner ear.
When you think about it, having a lot of visibly crazy people wandering the streets (as opposed to
safely locked away in asylums or in the White House) can depress property values and reduce many
people's comfort levels about being in that neighborhood. At the same time, cellphones are so common
that they're not really "cool" or expensive any more, so sales of fake plastic cellphones have dropped
through the same floor that absorbed those triple-bladed neon-colored windshield wipers some years back.
| ...As far as I could make out, it had something to do
with cheese... |
So the solution is obvious: take the surplus fake cellphones and hand them out to crazy people wandering
the streets ranting incoherently. I'm sure there will be plenty to go around, and then the non-crazies will
feel comfortable, because the crazies won't be behaving any differently than anyone else.
The one problem I see with this idea is one I encountered, appropriately, outside the Post Office. As I
was walking into the Post Office, a woman was walking out, having a very emotional and apparently
angry conversation involving lots of arm-waving. As far as I could make out, it had something to do
with cheese, though I could have misheard that. No cellphone in sight, which was good, because if
she'd been holding it, the way she was moving her arms, she could easily have propelled it thirty or
forty feet, potentially injuring a perfectly innocent passerby who was not even affiliated with the dairy
industry; perhaps even a vegan.
You're probably thinking, as I did at first, "she must be one of the crazy ones." But as she diappeared
around the corner, it was possible to glimpse a remarkably compact hands-free earbud headset in her right
ear. Either that, or her brain was being consumed by an Aurigelean Bloodworm. It's hard to tell a modern
earbud headset from a bloodworm's posterior segment from half a block away.
In either case, it complicates my grand scheme, but allows for more options, too. If a crazy person doesn't
want to walk around holding a plastic phone to his head, he can opt to have something that looks like a little
black mushroom stuffed into his ear cap-first.
I'm sure most crazy people wouldn't object to that.