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Category Archives: Sketches
Dear Valued Customer,
As the chairman and CEO of BuyAbsolutelyAnything.com, I wanted to take a moment to personally apologize to you for the extreme inconvenience that resulted from a mistake in fulfilling your recent order.
I have conducted an extensive internal investigation into this matter, and could find no satisfactory reason why our fulfillment system substituted your original order of a case of Nev-R-Die D-Cell Flashlight Batteries 12-Count (KI139809) with a Live African Bull Elephant (WL897189). I further understand that the animal arrived dead in its shipping crate, and that it had actually been dead for some time, evidently long before it was dispatched from our warehouse. This was traced to fraudulence on behalf of our supplier and you may rest assured that our relationship with this supplier has been terminated and a strongly worded letter of opprobrium sent.
Of course, we realize it takes more than a strong letter to correct a situation of this magnitude. It is one thing to say that a dead elephant was delivered to one’s doorstep; it is quite another to have to deal with the consequences. I can only imagine the horror — I believe no other word will suffice — on opening the crate and being confronted with the carcass, a once-majestic beast surrounded in a blinding cloud of flies, its skin rippling with the movements of dozens of rats that had occupied the husk as though it were some ghastly putrefying mansion. I do not doubt that your children continue to have nightmares about it, nor that it raised a host of questions about life, death and the laws of nature that you had had no expectation of addressing for at least several more years. Furthermore, our customer service team “dropped the ball” in processing your return, and while the laws for transporting animal remains are admittedly obscure, that is no justification for our failing to retrieve the crate for eight days. I understand your homeowner’s association levied numerous fines against you and our legal department is currently reviewing your claims in this manner.
I further want to assure you that the anti-Semitic graffiti on the interior of the crate was in no way the doing of BuyAbsolutelyAnything.com and that we addressed this with the aforementioned supplier. Finally, please accept my apologies regarding the behavior of the delivery driver. We use this courier service on millions of deliveries a year and they are normally the picture of reliability. That your driver was intoxicated and repeatedly challenged your family to “step up and see if you can take” him is so far beyond the realm of what we typically experience from this firm that I am at a loss to explain it. Sometimes misfortunes come together in a “perfect storm” and that seems to be what happened in your case.
With that said, what is BuyAbsolutelyAnything.com going to do to rectify this situation? Here are the remedies I have personally instructed our Customer Service team to provide:
You want Nev-R-Die D-Cell Flashlight Batteries 12-Count (KI139809)? You’ve got them! I am shipping you a complimentary order of batteries this month, and the month after that, and the month after that. In fact, I will ship you an order of Nev-R-Die D-Cell Flashlight Batteries 12-Count (KI139809) free of charge every month for the rest of your life, and every month for the rest of your children’s lives and of their children’s lives as well. Your family will enter the 22nd century never having known the inconvenience of being without a fully charged flashlight, by which time a superior alternative to alkaline batteries should be well established.
Are you familiar with the German concept of schadenfreude? This word describes the pleasure one naturally feels at the misfortune of an enemy, and while we at BuyAbsolutelyAnything.com like to consider ourselves your friends, we understand why you might hold a different view. That’s why I’ve ordered a company-wide program of mortification and abasement, effective beginning today. I will spare you the details — the document I distributed this week runs to three single-spaced pages — but let me give you the 10,000-foot view.
First of all, you have likely already seen the apology blimp I dispatched to your residence; it will hover there for a full thirty days, cycling a series of “we’re sorry” messages on its illuminated sign. Every BuyAbsolutelyAnything.com employee was required to memorize and recite a litany of self-abuse that leaves each man and woman in no doubt about the severity of this transgression and his or her role in it. The Customer Service representative in charge of your case was terminated and her work space and computer ritually destroyed. The temperature in the BuyAbsolutelyAnything.com offices cycles without warning between sweltering and freezing; chairs and desks have been replaced with cheaper, ergonomically punishing office furniture reclaimed from a former Soviet military base; and employees are subject to random emotional and psychological assaults from a squad of hooded ex-CIA operatives given license to roam the building at will. Our IT department will be sending you a link to a private web portal featuring live feeds from our internal security cameras, allowing you to watch these efforts in action. This program will continue for a year and a day, at which point the executive team will evaluate its efficacy. During that time, rest easy knowing that the emotional trauma you suffered, that sense that the entire universe was arrayed against you, is now being visited a hundredfold on the architects of your misfortune.
Lastly, I may or may not have ordered further compensation that I am legally barred from discussing or even acknowledging. For instance, it is not impossible that the attractive courier sent to hand-deliver this letter is in fact a prostitute who is performing an expert, wildly creative act of fellatio upon you even as you read these words. It is even possible, though not legally provable, that she was instructed so far as to time your climax to occur just as you are reading the following paragraph:
Remember, at BuyAbsolutelyAnything.com, we do anything it takes to keep you satisfied. Absolutely Anything™.
Save a Dozen Lives in Three Easy Steps
The word “kidnapping” actually comes from the court of pre-Revolutionary France, when marauding noblemen would don kid gloves and nab commoners right off the streets, scooping them into their carriages and force-feeding them croissants and heavy cream. As for the poor bastards lying here in the Groupon offices, they’re probably thinking a croissant wouldn’t be so bad right about now, that anything would be an improvement over being trussed up like a hog by an obviously disturbed person with a neckbeard, a sawed-off shotgun and a MacBook Air, a person who I want to assure you is quite willing to shoot the face clean off any or all of these hostages unless the following demands are met:
1. Like cigarettes in prison, the size of your yacht and those bead strings they hang over pool tables, money is a handy way to keep track of who’s winning and losing in life’s ongoing Darwinian struggle. It can also be used to buy accordion repair training, stuff an extremely expensive scarecrow or perhaps save the lives of a dozen quietly sobbing office workers, their hands slowly turning purple as the ropes binding their wrists cut off their circulation and placate the otherwise vengeful and jealous hemp gods. So go ahead and deliver one million dollars in used twenty, fifty and one hundred dollar bills, financing my new life on the lam and depriving a pica-stricken bank employee of an illicit snack.
2. Before the invention of the automobile, loose wheels careened freely through the streets, bowling over helpless pedestrians and making horses rear up in fright. Help to avert bouncing, circular chaos by providing a brand-new, fully fueled automobile with four securely fixed wheels, as well as a police scanner and dark tinted windows. Said auto should also have sufficient room to accommodate two bound and gagged abductees, who will be released only when I’m certain I’m not being followed by law enforcement, TV news crews or hostage fetishists.
3. In addition to providing a valuable way to rid the world of old tin cans, firearms can bring families together over a mutual loathing of clay pigeons or a shared passion for earmuffs and tinted safety glasses. They can also, when delivered to the foyer of the Groupon offices in sufficient quantities, aid in the escape of a copywriter who once had dreams of being the next Thomas Pynchon but who now has written so many absurd come-ons for restaurants, hair salons and health spas that he is all but incapable of expressing a thought without resorting to nonsensical metaphors or made-up history or some other labored exercise in smirking hipster bullshit. Do you know I keep a notebook under my pillow just in case I wake up at three in the morning with a new euphemism for tanning bed? Yeah. You do now. That’s why you’re going to deliver two revolvers with five hundred rounds of ammunition, a hundred 20-gauge shotgun shells, a ballistic vest and a gas mask. Also supply six fragmentation grenades, suitable for thwarting pursuing FBI agents, enticing shrapnel collectors or removing sugar glider infestations.
Bring the cash and weapons to the sixth floor of 600 W. Chicago Avenue and leave the vehicle parked outside, the engine running and the doors unlocked. No tricks, snipers, double-crosses, voodoo hexes or skunk eye. Follow these instructions and these twelve people will go on living, dutifully recycling oxygen for trees and robbing the funeral industry of sought-after revenue for many years to come.
In a Nutshell
Fed-up Groupon scribe demands money, escape vehicle and weapons, as well as renewed sense of dignity and purpose, in exchange for lives of twelve hostages
The Fine Print
Expires in two hours, at which point one hostage will be executed, followed by another hostage for each additional hour these demands are not met. Limit 1 per order. Valid only for option purchased.
In these uncertain economic times, your firm needs every kind of advantage on its side — not merely a strong balance sheet and efficient supply chain management, but a potent psychological edge. You need someone whose very presence communicates strength and competence to employees, partners and competitors alike. You need someone like me.
I am a suit.
I will sit at a conference table or at an elegant luncheon, in my suit, quietly radiating calm, authority and steely reserve. Leaning back in my chair at the appropriate angle, my fingers curled under my chin, I will take in everything said around me, nodding or simply fixing the speaker with a respectful and attentive gaze. At meetings, I will take notes on a legal pad tucked into a rich leather portfolio, using a Waterman pen with my initials engraved on the barrel. My handwriting is bold and angular, stylish while still preserving legibility, and you will notice how decisively I underline my major headings.
At no point will I pull out a Blackberry and begin typing on it — I do not own one, and my Louis Vuitton briefcase contains no laptop. (I am available with an optional laptop-bearing assistant; please speak to me for details.) Instead you will find a region-appropriate copy of Crain’s; my Kindle; several neat file folders containing documents of obscure but impressive purpose; a pair of Prada men’s sunglasses in a black leather case; a Netflix envelope, sealed and ready for mailing (Ratatouille, I explain with a smile; my daughter loves anything Pixar, and we ought to just buy the movie for all the times she’s seen it but we don’t like to use the TV as a babysitter); and my portfolio and pen, should I not be working with them.
I may, in a lighter moment that illustrates my humanity and approachability, show you a photo of my wife and aforementioned young daughter on my iPhone. Their names are Marisol and Kendall, respectively. I will humbly thank you when you tell me how beautiful they both are and then make a self-deprecating remark about my daughter inheriting her looks from her mother. We will both know I am lying; I am a gorgeous man, with captivating hazel eyes, unblemished skin and a jaw like the prow of a yacht.
I will politely deflect all other inquiries into my background and history. As far as you are concerned, I am a man from nowhere, a blank slate, an abstraction made flesh. (I am available with a full background, including university associations and professional organizations, for a modest upgrade charge.)
My suit itself? Contemporary and elegant, with a cool slate-grey hue, stylish lines that accentuate my physique (I work out rigorously and have a resting pulse rate of 45) and a subtle texture to the weave that you may well find yourself admiring during our many conferences, in moments when I happen not to be speaking. My silk tie is custom-made and tied in a flawless, bullet-hard Shelby knot; other knot styles up to and including a full Windsor can be accommodated on request.
As far as my handshake is concerned, I have a grip like a tiger shark’s jaws and can split walnuts between my fingers — did I not assure you that I work out? In addition to my full regimen of cardio, weights and resistance training, I also study Jeet Kune Do, the fighting system devised by the late Bruce Lee. This training allows me to precisely attenuate my handshake to communicate fellowship, encouragement or menace as appropriate to the situation. Without even speaking I can assure the lowliest hourly employee that I am firmly on his or her side; let a supplier know that he is in for toughest negotiation of his life; or so frighten an opposing counsel that his balls shrivel between his sweating thighs like a puppy cowering before a rolled newspaper.
As we work more closely together over the days and weeks, you come to appreciate the awesome intellectual resources I can command, along with my willingness to put them completely at your disposal. Soon I will begin finishing your sentences for you, and then speaking your thoughts before you have a chance to utter them. Days rush by in a blur as achievements you had previously dismissed as impossible suddenly appear tantalizingly close. You notice I never appear nervous and rarely blink. Dimly, you begin to understand that I am capable of doing, and actually may have done, terrible things. You will be grateful I am on your side.
My fingernails are immaculate, my hair perfectly in place. My wristwatch is rated to a depth of 400 fathoms as well as the vacuum of space. My shoes glisten like the hood of a black Ferrari. And I can be yours for a surprisingly modest fee. After all, what price is too high to surpass your ambitions, redraw the competitive landscape and leave your opponents broken in the dust? Contact me today for a quote.
(References available upon request.)