Do people actually say that? I didn’t think so—until today when I took my son Sam to the ear nose and throat doctor, because he has large adenoids and they need to be removed. We were waiting and a mom and her Levis-501-wearing teenage son came in. I mention the 501s because I took note at the time and thought, Ahh yes. A solid young man in a solid, timeless pair of pants. Good for him. As it turns out, I should not have put so much stock in his pants. They sat across from us and he asked his mom how long it would be “There’s no telling,” she replied. There’s no telling? I made a mental note to start saying that whenever possible. Not only does it convey an extremely grave tone, but it is also archaic and dramatic in a way that few situations actually call for--thus rendering it useful for comedic purposes.
Since there was no telling how long they would have to wait there, the kid chose Popular Science to read. His mom was already reading a magazine. “I like to read these sometimes. There’s so much happening in science right now.” He said. Loudly. Initially I was pleased to hear his voice because I am curious and nosy and it sounded like Jason Lee’s voice (the bad guy in The Incredibles) and I like Jason Lee.
So then this fellow, who sat right across from me about 4 feet away, starts to read highlights from the articles aloud. Very loud. This was distracting because I was busy re-playing in my head all of my conversations from the last 24 hours (trying to get a jump on my bedtime routine), deriving pleasure from a select few and agonizing over the excruciating possibility that I misheard, misunderstood, misspoke, etc. As he got louder and louder I couldn't help but wonder, is he talking to me? Because his mom was reading her own magazine and, more or less, ignoring the Jason Lee voice boy. I could live with the reading out loud. But he became ever more enthusiastic about Popular Science’s vision of the garage of the future.
“No Way! Lasers will guide your car into the parked position and run diagnostics on your car regularly. Your car will tell you how to fix itself! Listen to this. Shelves will have scales in them and will track how much fertilizer you use! Unbelievable!” This last exclamation, made funnier by this week’s episode of The Apprentice, seemed a bit of an overstatement. His mom asked when all of this would be happening. In 10 years. “I don’t think I’m ready for that,” She said and returned to her reading.
Does it seem odd to you that the technology for scales in shelves is still 10 years away? I mean, does that seem “unbelievable”? I’d like to think that, were I so inclined, I could have that sort of thing right now.
“Roboticized trash cans that are programmed to transport themselves to the curb on trash day. NOT EVEN!” At this point I wanted him to stop and so I dropped all pretense of not hearing him and looked at him with big eyes and an awed smile, as if to say “Unbelievable.” I thought, if he were talking to me, this nod of recognition might bring the “conversation” to an end. It did not have that effect. But we were called back to see the doctor. I do not know whether he continued after Sam and I left. Probably. And, really, who can blame him because there’s so much happening in science right now.