This week, hot from the Ranch we have an abandoned suitcase
July 26, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about what happens next to a stranded suitcase. Go where the prompt leads you, but consider the different perspectives you can take to tell the tale.
‘I know what it is…’
‘Why’d you ask?’
‘What are you doing with it.’
‘She asked me to watch it.’
‘The woman who asked me.’
‘Are you nuts. It might be a bomb.’
‘She looked nice.’
‘Or a body…’
‘Or laundered money…’
‘Though her shoes seemed ill-fitting…’
‘You know, like she got them cheap…’
‘And wouldn’t admit she’d made a mistake…’
‘A mobile crystal meth lab…’
‘And it was too late to take them back…’
‘Blood diamonds… ill-fitting shoes?’
‘She’ll have a latte.’
These days we are constantly reminded about the risk of abandoned luggage, bags left on seats or propped against walls. Potential terrorists are everywhere. Back in the 1980’s the terrorists weren’t suicide bombers but Irish Republicans. Their early receptacles of choice for their bombs were waste bins so these were removed and stayed removed until long after the threat had receded to nothing. It can still be a challenge on a station to find a bin, unless it is for recycling – on the sound premise that terrorists are instinctively green so wouldn’t want to disrupt recycling. After all, what’s the point in undermining democracy if there’s no planet left to inhabit?
I can cope with the paucity of bins, however. What drives me slightly bonkers are the messages that are broadcast, all emanating from the Mad-Eye Moody school of bloody irritating ‘Constant Vigilance’. The latest ubiquitous teeth-grater is on London Transport’s many stations and depots, admonishing us to watch out for unattended bags and packages, recommend we note said dubious suitcase, tell someone and go about our business. It’s either that or turn into an emotional jelloid and run screaming from wherever we’ve been standing, advising one and all that we are ‘All Doooomed’.
This helpful suggestion ends with a catch phrase to rival Beanz Meanz Heinz for cheesy bum-clenchery and the power to render the listener impotent with fury. It goes:
See It, Say It, Sorted.
Who comes up with this alliterative dodos doodoos? Initially I thought it was
See It, Say It, Sort It
Because that seemed to flow better. But then I considered how strange it was that, having been told to tell someone in authority, I was now to sort out the problem myself. Like listening to a badly articulated lyric in an ear-wormy pop song, I strained to work out what the last line was. It was oddly satisfying when (a) I realised my mistake, but (b) even more irritating that the cretinous ignoramus who wrote it should end with something as glib as ‘sorted’.
But that is as nothing to the middle part. ‘Say it’. It is such an inapt expression. You tell someone to ‘say it’ if you want them to spit it out which, in context, is daft. If someone is coming to you with a message that there is a rogue parcel on your station, you’ll really help them if you demand they speak. Or maybe they fear people will turn up and begin to mine a bomb.
Of course it should be
See it, Tell Someone, Thank you
But that’s not so jingly, is it?
And you know what? As this rant shows, it’s now as much part of my DNA as my ability to fart on cue and a congenital loathing of grapefruit. I can no more unknow this than I can forget the sequence of stations that is recited on my way home when departing of Victoria station (Brixton, Herne Hill, West Dulwich, Sydenham Hill, Penge East…). Or the Shipping Forecast (Dover, Wight, Portland, Plymouth, Biscay…). Or the Top Cat theme song (Top Cat, the most effectual Top Cat whose intellectual close friends get to call him TC Providing it’s with dignity…). These have seeped into my consciousness without any deliberation on my part. Cut me open and vinyl will fall out. Just Mind The Gap…