Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Bruce Levine

Every government, large or small, foreign, or domestic; every university or school district, urban, suburban, or rural; every business, corporation or mom-&-pop have one thing in common – departments. Defense, transportation, or social services; theatre, science, or math; shipping, finance, or publicity. But there’s one department none of these institutions need on their own because, like the internet cloud, the Department of Stupidity is ubiquitous and available to everyone. Whether they’re looking for a CEO to flush the business down the toilet, a professor to incite a riot or a stupid commercial that causes customers to buy the competitors’ product, the Department of Stupidity is ready for any task.

            The head of the Department of Stupidity, aka DOS, was a brilliant man, not because of his intelligence, but because he had created DOS to begin with. It wasn’t a lightning bolt of inspiration, but rather a stupid blunder.

            Hugo Lightbottom hadn’t done many things right in his entire life. His first mistake was to allow his parents to give him the name Hugo Lightbottom, but at the tender age of one day old he didn’t have much to say about it.

            The next stupid thing Hugo did was to waste his entire public-school education which was exacerbated by the school system passing him along, under the guise of social promotion, from grade to grade without Hugo learning anything and to be further compounded by being granted, albeit at the bottom of his class, a diploma attesting to his graduation.

            After high school he blundered his way from one menial job to the next, most lasting only long enough for him to make a stupid mistake with a variety of consequences ranging from simply not giving the correct change to customers at a fast-food restaurant to starting a fire that almost incinerated an entire block of stores.

            During the periods between jobs Hugo mindlessly watched television and rapidly became infected by the array of stupid commercials. Instead of watching the programs he’d mute the sound and wait for the commercials and focus his meager intelligence on the dumbest of the dumb, a relatively easy feat since their proliferation seemed to be in direct proportion to Hugo’s lack of gray matter.

            It was one of these commercials that changed Hugo’s life forever; an ad that promised that he could earn big money simply by answering telephone calls at home.

            And it was during one of these calls that Hugo began to stumble on the beginnings of DOS. He’d been given a script to follow, but due to his lack of reading skills, he accidentally said the first thing that crossed his mind. Unfortunately, or fortunately for Hugo, the caller actually listened as if they were getting sage advice from an oracle.

            The next day Hugo got a call from a friend of yesterday’s caller who was looking for an answer to a problem and his friend had assured him that Hugo would know and, not wanting to disappoint the caller, Hugo once again said the first thing that popped into his head.

            Once again the caller hung up happy and, for the first time, Hugo felt good about himself.

            Gradually the number of calls increased faster than Hugo could answer them and the call waiting that came as part of his telephone/internet package began taking messages on his voicemail. The package also included a free website which, due to a glitch at the server, somehow got connected to his voicemail and prompted a call from the provider to help build a personal website and thus the Department of Stupidity was born.

            Gradually the DOS website took on a life of its own. Soon advertisers were calling about placing their ads on his webpage with the promise of income simply by having them there. Hugo now had enough money.

            As time passed DOS continued to grow and calls kept coming in, to the point where Hugo could no longer answer them all.

            Now it was his turn to advertise for employees. Hugo had become an entrepreneur. And as the income increased from the ads on the DOS website Hugo began to realize that DOS no longer needed him. He’d somehow stumbled on the one thing in his life which required nothing of him – retirement.

            Hugo now lives in the South of France.

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