Outsourced

“Five-year warranty? Nah, two’s good.”

“This is wrong… Why d’you do this? It’s not even a big margin.”

“Every little counts, Mark. Besides, this is good enough for those rubes.”

Roadways contractor Billy clapped his hands, excited. Eyes aglow, he gestured at his long-time assistant to seal the deal. It wasn’t the first time he’d chosen affordability over durability. He didn’t bother, either. Because if the National Freeway he builds now caved two years later due to low quality, he wouldn’t be answerable.

Within five years, he’d saved millions from state funds. All locked in a safe in his name.

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Cookie

Even though I’m not much of a sweet tooth I can never pass up the opportunity to devour cookies. At the near-end of my first visit to the US, I realised I’d been there a whole moth without ever trying out Starbucks. So it was with much facepalming that I entered the Starbucks outlet at the Dubai airport. I was in transit from Seattle, and not at all hungry.

But who needs to be hungry to eat cookies?

Starbucks cookie and coffee

Old news

It’s 6:30 am on the 15th of February. And I’m angry.

It’s is not how I’d hoped to start my day. My first realisation for the day was how bloody America has become. A teenager has gunned down high school students—again.

I don’t live in the US. I’m no longer a high schooler, and I’m no parent. I know no one in Florida or anywhere near its vicinity.

But I’m angry nevertheless. It pains me—who lives 11.30 hours ahead of PST—that someone somewhere has unrestricted access to such vile weaponry. I’m silly that way. Because I care about what’s becoming of this place that I no longer want to call home.

Just last week I was proud—thrilled that a fellow human propelled a rocket to space. A single man’s determination and persistence has given us all a lifetime worth of achievement. Last week as Falcon Heavy made a safe landing, we celebrated human-ness  and our intense ability to reach beyond our confines. Our race had pursued the nigh-impossible and proven nothing’s impossible. For one week, I was proud of humankind.

This week, I’m repulsed by it.

Sure, life’s full of good and bad incidents. And philosophers would argue we wouldn’t appreciate the good unless we experience the bad. Which is all sage advice, except the bad is no longer bad when it extinguishes the innocent and exalts the unworthy.

Elon Musk had to fail hundreds of times before he could succeed. That’s the bad pill we need to swallow so we can appreciate the good one when it comes.

A teenage murderer isn’t the kind of bad that leads to realising goodness. Nothing good ever comes from entrusting a loaded weapon to someone unauthorised to wield it. That causes more than an unfortunate turn of events—that’s a consequence of utter insensibility.

Scrolling through social media, I saw videos and text messages from students inside the school during the shooting. They’re communicating with family and friends outside and most of them seem calm and collected.

Calmness in the face of adversity is healthy, some might say. I’d say no, though.

Although panic gets us nowhere, calm indicates familiarity. Despite grieving, people have grown accustomed to such incidents. It’s the first time for some folk, but nothing unheard of. Violence and guns amiss are so common that no one’s surprised that it happened again.

Everyone’s shocked because it happened, of course, but no one’s surprised that it happened. And there lies the fundamental fault in our stars.

Unexpected

This valentine’s day

for a blind date seeking love

a mother lectures

Master of none

“Carl! How’re ya?”

Carl looked up “Hi, Mark. All good, tha — ”

“Quick favour. Can you conjour up a poster for us? Nothing too fancy—we’re organising a last-minute event, and need designs ASAP.”

Carl sent the memo he’d been proofreading for Jason, and then turned to Mark smiling. “Sure. I’ll be happy — ”

“Cheers, life saver. Drinks on me, Friday!”

Carl had spent the morning proofreading his team mates’ work, before tackling Jason’s memo. It took him all evening — amidst discussions, brainstorming sessions, and distractions—to finish Mark’s designs.

By 7, he’d done everyone’s job but his.

Tomorrow, perhaps.

*Ping* “u thr?”