The real Little Green Man from Mars is alive and well and living in Appalachia.

The Truth Is a Lone Assassin by Jonco Bugos

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Problem Solving 101

I didn’t need a college degree or to conduct a lot of research to find out how Earthlings solved most of their problems. As a former Martian with total recall I should have been prepared to see the horror stories I’d heard about planet Earth come to life. But I wasn’t prepared. I don’t think anyone could ever be completely prepared to watch and experience how people from planet Earth solved their personal and business problems, let alone any other problems they might have. The Earthling rule of thumb for problem solving was simple: Make your problems someone else’s problems and hope that will make them go away.

As a little boy on the elementary school playground I found out that making your problems someone else’s problems was actually quite easy, even though I didn’t have the inclination to do so. I always tried to solve my own problems first and then ask a grown up for help if that failed, like a good little former Martian. I never thought to pass the monkey that was on my kid back on to another kid. That wouldn’t be fair. But most other kids, and especially other boys, didn’t give a hoot about fairness. For example, if a boy was having a bad day because the teacher caught him cheating or stealing or something and he was bigger than you, he’d slug you in the school yard. After all, he had a problem and you had a face. Problem solved.

Later in life, as one of the many sorry souls who wound up commuting way too many miles to work, I discovered that most other motorists solved their problem of being late for work by tailgating the slower drivers who observed the speed limits and forcing them to either speed up or else pull over and let them go by. Problem solved. Except where interstates were available. Then the late-for-work crowd would just blow you off the highway as they flew past you at ninety miles per hour. Problem solved again.

As a consumer on planet Earth, I soon found out that the many defective products you’d buy were not accidental but totally intentional. It was a lot easier for manufacturers to pass on to consumers all the defective products that had slipped by quality control inspectors who were asleep on the job or where quality control didn’t exist at all because it was cheaper for the factory not to have to pay quality control inspectors (especially if they’re asleep at the wheel). It sure was a lot more cost-effective and efficient than tossing the defective products out and replacing them with products that passed the quality control inspections. Once again, problem solved.

I actually tried the Earthling system of problem solving once. I figured it was worth a try since solving your own problems or asking someone for help is certainly a lot more time consuming and expensive. So, one day when I was in a hurry to get to work but I just had to have a freshly-brewed cup of convenience store coffee on the way, I parked in a handicapped stall like an inconsiderate lout who didn’t care that a real handicapped person might need that parking stall. And, when I came out of the store and was ready to jump back in the car and tear off to work, my car wasn’t there. I saw it trailing behind a big yellow tow truck just exiting the parking lot.

My lesson was that, if you want to solve your problems using the Earthling method of problem solving, you’d better have a certain knack for it. Otherwise, someone in authority just might hand your problem back to you tenfold. From there on out, I solved all my problems the good old Martian way.

Editor's Note 6-4-13: None of the Little Green Man from Mars posts are autobiographical tales about Michael Casher. For example, Michael Casher never parked illegally in a handicapped stall in his entire life and would never do anything like that. Little Green Man is a fictitious character with a fictitious name and his life and times are fictional. For more information, read the sidebar texts. Thank you.

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