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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

FedEx to Russia and the Thunderbolts of Zeus

In the movie 'Castaway', Tom Hanks plays a FedEx employee who trains his wayward Russian staff to deliver the goods on time, and then flies out to home, naturally by the short route over the Pacific. The plane gets hit by lightning, crashes into the ocean, and everyone dies except Tom, who is marooned on a desert island for several years. When he manages to escape, he finds that his wife has left him, and that he has somehow lost his taste for sushi and crab legs.

To which I say, serves the BASTARD right!!

Fed Ex employees on raft

Perhaps I can explain my delicate mood, and the greater lesson of moodiness. It all began with a Fed Ex package to of course, Russia. Sent by urgent/express/got to be there on time delivery, the envelope contained plane tickets for my mother in law. (Yes, I have a mother in law in Russia, which perhaps to most of you readers is a swell place to send your mother in law). And so the package got to Russia, and sat, and sat, and sat. The tracking number could just as well have been a number of a cemetery plot, since the thing stayed buried for four weeks, and now as I write is probably high tailing it to the Urals by mule train. And so what did my queries to Fed Ex show me? Nothing. They didn't know who was responsible, who to call, or why my $68 dollar investment has less meaning than a 39 cent postage stamp.

I was not happy, and for this they would all die. Now my wrath is not exactly normal, and I expect cosmic retribution for this violation of natural, or should I say, postal law. So, if God (or Zeus) would have lent an ear, he would have taken down scores of Fed Ex planes with Jovian thunderbolts. Nothing would have pleased me more. Of course, I would have had a twinge of regret in hindsight, but more likely a realization of the psychological truth that if it itches, it must be scratched, no matter how many will ultimately die in the scratching. The philosopher Hannah Arendt thought that evil was at root a banal act, but I would suggest that it is more often due because we are simply pissed off and need someone to swat. If we think of it, making a decision due to a moment's bad feeling it not exactly a good reason to do anything, let alone wiping out scores of people. Nonetheless if we could we would do it all the time, and it's a good thing that we don't have a personal genie to settle scores when we are particularly cross.

As a postscript, the movie 'Castaway' ends happily, as a deleted scene shows Tom returning to the house of a dishy babe whose package he just delivered, three years late. As he smiles at her, she takes a shotgun and blows his head off.

Yes, Virginia, there is a god.

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