Jimmy’s Last Stand

September 26, 2013

by Danielle Small

Never mind homework,  Jimmy had enough trouble just trying to remind his parents to pick him up from school.

“I’m entering it into my calendar,” promised his mom every morning as she typed the reminder into her phone.

“You shouldn’t need an alarm to remind you to pick me up from school,” mumbled Jimmy as he finished making his lunch—a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that had too much peanut butter and not enough jelly.

The next day, Jimmy knew exactly what he had to do. It was a Saturday and Jimmy, filled with optimism, whistled on his way to his parents’ room. They were still asleep, so when he took their smartphones and plunged them in a bowl of water, they did not notice. An hour later, when they woke up, he semi­successfully made pancakes with bacon and eggs.

Straggling into the kitchen, his parents asked him why he made breakfast.

“I’m on a mission,” he replied. “I’m on a mission to make our family a real family. I can’t remember the last time we spent time together where you guys weren’t playing Angry Birds or emailing your bosses. And I want to change that. Your training starts today.”

During his curt speech, Jimmy’s parents were hurriedly searching for their phones.

Before they could freak out, Jimmy explained how he had disposed of them. His parents screamed at him and took turns yelling “You’re grounded.” But Jimmy didn’t care because this was all a part of the plan.

“You’ll get your phones back after we sit down and eat together as a family—for once,” Jimmy said.

His parents’ resistance and threats of punishment were futile. They needed their phones and they weren’t the spanking types. And if the only thing they had to do was sit down and eat breakfast to get their phones back, well, it did not seem like a bad deal.

A few years later when reflecting on that odd weekend, Jimmy wondered if his little experiment did any good. They never ate together much after that. Then, he remembered that Monday, for the first time, his mom was actually on time to pick him up from school, and she didn’t even have her smartphone to remind her.

Danielle Small is a freelance writer based in New York City. When she’s not peddling articles or tweeting (@danielleabeda), she fills her time trying to master the harmonica. She can play three-quarters of a Bob Dylan song.-See more at: http://downsizedlivingmag.com/Fool-Your-Family.html#sthash.WRDcQsCu.dpuf

All Downsized Living blog posts are fictitious and satirical. Any resemblance to real persons is coincidental and unintentional.

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A Pill Hard to Swallow

September 17, 2013

by Nancy Redman

I arrived at a drugstore to fill an antibiotic prescription for a recent tooth extraction.

I was shocked to see a line extending five blocks long.

What could possibly be the reason?

I joined the line and turned to an elderly gentleman sitting on his walker seat.

How long have you been in line? I asked.

Three hours, he said.

What? Why not go to another pharmacy? I said.

The man looked wearily into my eyes.

It will make no difference, he said.

There are eight-hour lines everywhere.

Why? I asked.

The new robot automation is malfunctioning, he said.

What?

Every pharmacy is using robot automation to assist pharmacists, the man said.

Unfortunately, the pharmacists are not as sophisticated as the robots.

What do you mean? I said.

Some robots are catapulting thousands of pills in all directions, looking like manic lawn sprinklers.

Some robots are turning around in a continuous circle.

One robot is continually filling the same prescription.

The staff, ducking the pills while wearing protective head gear, remained on the phone waiting for tech support.

One pharmacist in his white lab coat snuck outside for a quick smoke.

His assistant, who finally got through, was desperate. Listen, he said, I can’t find the purple wire!

I see red—blue—no purple wire.

Can I combine the red and blue wires to make a purple one?

No? That won’t work?

To my amazement, tech support finally arrived. They were wearing headphones under helmets with cushioned body suits and shields. As they tried to dismantle the robots, I slipped in behind them.

I quickly found a stock boy and offered him one hundred dollars for penicillin for my tooth extraction.

As I rushed out of the pharmacy, I walked past the old gentleman, who was being attended to by paramedics.

Will he be OK? I asked.

Yes. As soon as we get his prescription filled.

Nancy Redman is an actress, standup, and playwright. Her one-woman play, CLUTTER: I’m Saving My Life and It’s Killing Me won Best Comedian Award United Solo Theatre Festival 2011 and Best Directing Award for Austin Pendleton. Ms. Redman’s plays are published at http://www.indietheaternow.com/Playwright/nancy-redman

All Downsized Living blog posts are fictitious and satirical. Any resemblance to real persons is coincidental and unintentional.

by Blair Adams

You can camouflage your little hut in the park with green paint and branches all you want to, but the police seem to always have a way of finding it. Fortunately, many garden supply shops now sell attractive artificial bushes and shrubs that are excellent for sleeping in parks and are barely detectable.

Made of the same material as artificial turf, these abodes can stand up to virtually any weather condition and are also very light, making them easily transportable from place to place.

Live-in bushes are a good place to wind down after a hard day's work.

Live-in bushes are a good place to wind down after a hard day’s work.

That’s good news for many low-wage workers, who are now the fastest growing sector of the U.S. labor force. Many of these workers struggle with the high costs of transportation and housing, so these bushes are a low-cost option that allows them to live close to work and greatly reduce their expenses.

Darryl McNulty, 35, a cashier at a Gap clothing outlet in Los Angeles, lives with his parents in Whittier, about 12 miles away, and sleeps in a local park. “It’s easy,” he says. “I just get to work early to brush my teeth in the bathroom; then I go home on weekends. I make twice as much as if I had a car and had to pay for gas. The only thing you really need to worry about is the dogs. Once this big Borzoi lifted his leg on me, but for the most part, it’s been great.”

And because in some parts of the country parks are few and far between, these bushes are ideal for squatting in shopping malls, around office buildings and streets.

“Nobody really notices” said Tom Ricci, 23, who recently graduated from the University of Virginia and is an intern at a consulting firm. “Although someone tried to water and fertilize me once.”

In spite of the drawbacks, these nifty little bushes are swiftly becoming a creative path to upward mobility. “I’m going to use mine as a Christmas tree, come December,” said Mr. Ricci. “And this time I’ll be able to afford presents.”

Blair Adams is the editor of Downsized Living.

All Downsized Living blog posts are fictitious and satirical. Any resemblance to real persons is coincidental and unintentional.