Fundraiser

  1. Punishment for parents
  2. Event designed to teach kids a valuable life lesson: If you don’t do what is required of you, someone else will do it for you.

Usage Example: “Your class is selling candy bars for a fundraiser?.. I’ll write the check now.”

Background: Schools, athletic teams and clubs will often hold fundraisers to punish the parents of participants.

Fundraisers are intended to generate money to help cover the operating costs of participating organizations. The people in charge of the fundraiser will say that it provides a great way for a group of 10 year-olds to get some sales experience. They say that it will teach them valuable life lessons. They will dispatch this group of children to exploit their social networks in order to keep the band program running.

This newly minted group of tiny door-to-door sales people then march out of the school determined to drop the box of coupon books on the kitchen counter and never think of them again.

Two days before the money is due at the school, the parents ask about the box on the counter. The kid mentions that it is for “some kind of fundraiser or something.” The parents then take the coupon books to work and attempt to sell them to their coworkers. After selling a few, they write a check for the remaining amount, so Mr. Fields, the band director, doesn’t break their legs in the driveway for failing to meet the payment deadline.

At this point, the circle of life is complete. Every fundraiser works the same way, every time.

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Oil Change

  1. Trip to a metal and cinder block depression chamber
  2. Effective weight loss program for wallets

Usage Example: “The oil change place says that I need a new JQB valve. It could be expensive.”

Background:  Some people choose to change their own automotive oil. This process is relatively simple and inexpensive. However, it can also be messy and time consuming. This is why many people choose to get their oil changed at a quick-service oil change facility.

Upon driving to the back of an oil change facility, the customer is greeted by a technician. The technician welcomes him and asks him if he wants to upgrade to the fully synthetic, fully expensive motor oil. After declining the Champagne of motor oils, the customer is led into a cramped waiting room to watch Judge Mathis and drink burnt coffee while he nervously waits for the results of the oil change.

The waiting room is tense. After a few minutes, the technician summons the customer. The customer then walks to his car to receive the bad news. The technician shows the customer an air filter speckled with a few molecules of dust and warns the customer about the dangers of driving with a dirty air filter. The technician then generally points under the hood of the car and mentions that a belt is cracked and needs to be replaced. He also tells the customer about his bad JQB valve and lets him know that they have one in stock.

At this point, the customer agrees to have the work done, and is led back into the waiting room. The customer spends the next 15 minutes pretending to look at Field and Stream while the technicians get back to work. They change the air filter and belt while pretending that a JQB valve actually exists.

They then place a sticker on the customer’s windshield, explain that his coupon is only good on Wednesday mornings, lighten his wallet and send him on his way.

Vegetable Garden

  1. The best and worst decision of the year
  2. A battleground

Usage Example: “I’m looking for a powerful chemical that will instantly kill giant spiders in my vegetable garden, but will still allow me to say that the vegetables are organic… Do you have anything like that?”

Background: The home vegetable garden is a battleground. The choice to grow vegetables at home is both a peace treaty and a declaration of war on nature. The home gardener must work with nature by watering and nurturing plants, and work against nature by waging war on weeds, insects and animals.

At first, a home gardener may naively plant a few vegetables, water them, and sit back, assuming that they will have a crop of beautiful vegetables in a few weeks. However, it doesn’t take long for these rookies to realize that nature hates them, and will do anything that it can to destroy their precious little weekend project. Gardeners generally follow this pattern:

  1. Decide to plant an organic garden after seeing beautiful vegetables at the farmers market and on Facebook
  2. Prepare the ground through backbreaking labor
  3. Purchase and plant vegetables
  4. Water seeds and plants
  5. Weed
  6. Realize that an animal is eating the plants
  7. Purchase and set up a fence
  8. Weed
  9. Realize that an animal is still eating the plants
  10. Purchase liquid animal repellents
  11. Weed
  12. Battle a giant spider
  13. Weed
  14. Search the internet to identify strange looking insects
  15. Search the internet to figure out what is making those tiny holes in your leaves
  16. Purchase an organic insect repellent
  17. Weed
  18. Search the internet to figure out why your leaves are yellow
  19. Purchase and install an extra-large fence
  20. Purchase and use chemical insect repellents that actually work
  21. Weed
  22. Battle a giant spider
  23. Harvest three small tomatoes and five misshapen squash
  24. Decide that your Facebook friends are liars
  25. Vow to never plant a vegetable garden again… But those vegetables did taste really good…maybe just one more try…

And, just like the addicts that they are, gardeners keep fighting the battle year after year – hoping that the next year won’t contain huge spiders.

Self-Checkout

  1. Sensitive machine allowing customers to fulfill their dreams of working in the grocery industry without pay
  2. Recent technological advancement helping humans reach their goal of never talking with anyone else, ever

Usage Example: “There is no unexpected item in the bagging area! Why did I pick the self-checkout line?”

Background: For people interested in doing their own dental work, comes the self-checkout machine. These machines allow customers to play “Fantasy Grocery Store.” While in the checkout line, few grocery store customers are able to resist the urge to jump over the counter and scan their own items. Thankfully, the industry has responded to this desire by providing customers with an easy way to work for their favorite stores without pay.

The self-checkout machine also helps customers meet another need: avoiding conversation at all costs. The invention of the cellular phone forever changed the trajectory of mankind’s desire to talk with one another. Before the invention of the cell phone, most technological advancements were geared toward making it easier for humans to talk with each other. However, the cell phone went too far, by providing an easy way for humans to talk with each other anywhere and at any time. It was all too much.

Realizing that a terrible mistake had been made, the following years focused on technological backpedaling that helped humans avoid conversation at all costs. Text messages, online ordering, online banking and self-checkout technology are all steps toward the new goal. Today, the average American makes more phone calls using a box of Nerds than with an actual phone.

Self-checkout machines may be a quirky, deceptive ploy for retail outlets to gain a free workforce, but at least they help us avoid accidentally engaging in conversations. If this trend continues, we can expect the “self-automotive repair kiosk” and “self-medical exam machine” to arrive in the coming years.

Kiddie Pool

  1. Plastic backyard mosquito nursery
  2. Leaf catcher
  3. Insect execution method

Usage Example: “It’s been six days. Maybe I should drain the kiddie pool.”

Background: The molded plastic or vinyl kiddie pool is an icon of summer. On the first semi-warm days of the summer season, kids start begging their parents to drag out the pool. These pools are then taken out of storage, dusted off, and filled with water. At this point, kids proceed to play in the ankle-deep waters of the kiddie pool for a solid ten minutes before they move on to other summertime activities. These other activities include obtaining a head-to-toe covering of grass clippings upon leaving the pool, and continuously objecting to a state of boredom.

Figure 1 - A vinyl kiddie pool shortly after its first phase of life.

Figure 1 – A vinyl kiddie pool shortly after its first phase of life.

Immediately after the pool is vacated, it begins its second phase of life. In this phase, the pool morphs into a highly efficient mosquito hatchery, leaf catcher and insect execution machine.

Fun fact: at least half of the world’s known mosquitoes were born in kiddie pools. These pools are also extremely efficient leaf catchers. Even if a kiddie pool is placed far from the nearest tree, every leaf that falls within a half-mile radius of the pool will land in it. The kiddie pool is also a brutally efficient method of execution for dumb insects. One insect is executed by kiddie pool every 30 seconds.

The kiddie pool’s second phase of life ends after an average of five days. At this time, parents identify that the green waters of the leaf, dead bug and mosquito soup are no longer an acceptable place for children to sit and complain. At this time the pool is drained.

Tiny House

  1. A large dollhouse on a trailer
  2. Covert status symbol in the housing arms race

Usage Example: “People in big houses are so materialistic… I can’t wait to buy all of these specialized materials to build my tiny house. That will show everyone how non-materialistic I am.”

Background: In order to combat the perceived materialism found in the large American home, a group of men in skinny-jeans reacted in the only sane way possible: they built large dollhouses on trailers and wedged themselves into them.

The tiny house movement started booming after the mortgage crisis of 2008. This was a time in which people sought simpler ways of living. People wanted fewer material possessions, and desired to be tightly wrapped in building materials. They disdained the large American house as a wasteful status symbol, and embraced the tiny house as a fun-sized status symbol.

The tiny house movement represents the latest step in the time-honored American tradition of one-upping friends and family through better living arrangements. Americans have been engaging in this housing arms race since the 1950’s. As a result, the average American home continued to grow in size. This trend persisted until even the most creative mortgages couldn’t sustain any further growth. Left with few options, the tiny house pioneers decided to one-up the owners of the largest homes by declaring them “materialistic.” They then chose to move into homemade shoeboxes, in the ultimate show of one-upsmanship.

In essence, the tiny house advocates picked up the ball and went home… but when they got there, they couldn’t actually fit the ball in their homes, unless they folded up the stairs and desk first.

Credit Card Rewards

  1. Arcade tickets for adults
  2. Rewards program that failed geography class

Usage Example: “Why does my credit card rewards program think that Los Angeles is 25,000 miles away from New York?”

Background: As children, many of us would go the arcade and happily spend $50 in quarters to win an armload of tickets. At that time, approximately 10,000 tickets would win a pencil. In spite of this fact, and for some unexplained reason, we were excited about the prospect of spending 50x the value of an item in order to “win” it. We would stare longingly at the 20-year-old, dusty, handheld television – knowing that we wouldn’t live long enough to earn the 20,000,000 tickets that it would take to bring it home.

Credit card companies understand that humans never outgrow this insane way of thinking, so they happily offer arcade tickets to adults in the form of “credit card rewards”. Want that $25 Applebees gift card? Spend $18,000 to get it. Interested in that set of golf clubs? It will only take 980 years to earn them.

Are you interested in cashing in your credit card airline miles? If so, it’s time to learn some “credit card geography”. If you live in New York, you might assume that 6,000 credit card miles could get you a round-trip ticket to the west coast. However, you might be surprised to learn that most credit card companies think that New York is approximately 25,000 miles from Los Angeles.

In order to maintain one’s sanity and financial security, it is important to fight this organized manipulation. Now, it’s time for me to hit Amazon… I’m only 50,000 points away from my Beats headphones.

Commencement

  1. An annual costume party to celebrate the conferral of credentials from educational institutions
  2. A robe pageant

Usage Example: “I can’t believe that Justin Bieber is our commencement speaker this year!”

Background: Each year, exhausted students, faculty and administrators throw costume parties to celebrate the conferral of degrees at educational institutions throughout the world. In any other setting, such parties would be seen as strange and unorthodox, but in the educational world, everyone is too tired to notice anything unusual about the proceedings.

Most commencement ceremonies follow the same basic format. Graduating students are forced to wear matching robes and funny hats as a final show of submission to their educational overlords. They are then compelled to watch their teachers and administrators march down the aisle and hold a “Most Flamboyant Robe” pageant at the front of the auditorium. This procession and pageant consists of grown men and women wearing bright, colorful robes and floppy hats. Some of the robes are actually rejected props from local productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. Other robes were previously used as the uniforms for evil alien races in low-budget 1960’s science-fiction movies.

Commencement ceremonies also feature unusual accessories. Administrators, educators and some students find themselves adorned with items such as colorful ropes, scepters and gold medallions.While no one truly knows what most of these items represent, it is important to note that the gold medallions may only be worn by former winners of the robe pageant.

Commencement ceremonies also usually include a short speech from a local business owner, D-list celebrity or politician. This special guest is also compelled to take part in the robe contest. He or she will wear a robe, sit on stage, and then give some variation of a “follow your dreams and don’t give up” speech.

The entire commencement ceremony is normally concluded with a game of make-believe. Each student is given a blank piece of paper, and everyone pretends that it is an actual degree.

Dollar Stores

  1. Shopping destination for disposable toys, Chinese toothpaste, off-brand food products and third-world greeting cards
  2. Home of the bipolar shopping experience

Usage Example: “I didn’t know that this dollar store had a meat department!”

Background: Shopping at a dollar store can be an excellent choice or the most frightening decision that a human being can make.

Shoppers looking to save money by purchasing party supplies and off-brand food products may be pleasantly surprised. For example, some dollar stores carry a wide variety of bagged cereals – from “Captain Crisp” to “Fruity Tiny Rocks”.

However, purchasing other products at a dollar store can be a tricky proposition. For example, there is nothing more frightening than the idea of a dollar store meat department. Yes, a dollar store meat department. Some dollar stores actually do contain small meat departments. These meat departments usually sell ham, turkey legs and rib eye steaks.

Purchasing a four ounce rib eye steak from a dollar store is a poor life decision. Some job applications not only ask about an applicant’s criminal background, but also whether he or she ever purchased a dollar store steak. Anyone who is tempted to purchase a dollar store steak is advised to sober up, and settle for the “Captain Crisp”.

Mother’s Day

  1. The single day each year keeping the brunch, breakfast-in-bed and flower delivery industries viable
  2. Conscience cleansing holiday invented by (and for) lazy people

Usage Example: “We’re going all-out this year. I’m taking mom to Mother’s Day brunch at K&W Cafeteria.”

Background: In the US, Mother’s Day is a holiday observed on the second Sunday in May. The concept of Mother’s Day is simple: you can wash over 364 days of neglect and apathy with a one-day tsunami of flowers, brunch and/or breakfast in bed. Because of this, Mother’s Day grants tacit approval for children to take their mothers for granted on every other day of the year.

The brunch lobby has been a strong supporter of Mother’s Day from its inception. Each Mother’s Day, hordes of children give their mothers flowers and inexplicably drag them to a meal that barely exists outside of the second Sunday in May.

The most bizarre Mother’s Day tradition is the ritual of “breakfast in bed”. Breakfast in bed assumes that mothers would like children, who can barely sit at the table without spilling something, to prepare and serve a meal to them in the place in which they sleep. Some mothers find this terrifying. Most mothers appreciate the idea of breakfast in bed, much more than its actual execution. Most mothers would prefer “quiet in bed” and “breakfast at the table” followed by “clean the kitchen” and “clean your rooms”.

Happy Mother’s Day!