In the cartoon, the grocery checker is holding a smoking gun and standing over a customer. The checker says, “The
sign says ten items, NOT eleven.” You know what that checker is feeling. You feel it too, when the rude jerk ahead of you
plunks down 15 items in the express line. In the real world though, the checker says nothing.
However, there is that rare customer who confronts the express line limit-abuser. “Hey, the sign says TEN items, #*!$.” Great stuff, and the other customers in line timidly nod approval. These incidents have been known to escalate though.
To preserve decorum, the execs have confronted this issue head-on. They have given us the quintessential sign of the times: “Express Lane – about 10 items”. Now that's a commitment, a line in the sand, a reflection of where America stands today. Unfortunately, we have yet to appreciate the depth and breadth of the ramifications of this resolute and steadfast approach.
Let’s head back to the line in the grocery store. There are several customers in front of us. The first has eleven items - that's about 10. The next customer has 12 items. That's almost eleven, and we know that’s about 10. Why shouldn’t you have 13? A slightly different perspective makes for a whole different view. You pulled through the aisle with only ONE cart!
This lesson learned, the next day, you mosey into work at the crack of noon. Your boss, a bit slow on the uptake, notes the time. What’s his point? Twelve is about nine. Do you think to ask whether your boss is as quick as you are? Will your next check be about the same size as your last one.
Surely you aren't surprised when your daughter returns from her first date at one in the morning. You did say, "Be home about eleven," didn't you?
Congratulations, it’s your fifteenth wedding anniversary. You stop at the florist's for a dozen roses and at the local confectioners for – aren’t you clever? -15 truffles. Your wife will swoon.
As a thoughtful, considerate husband, you are stunned when she asks about the significance of ten roses. Ten? She may also think you are making a statement about her weight problem when she finds not 15 truffles, but 12. Twelve?
On the other hand, she too is kind and considerate and says nothing about your subtle reference to her weight, and embarks on a diet. In your wonderfulness, you note her slimming down. She's worked hard to lose that weight. Time for a surprise; something extra special for your bride. "She wears a size eight, now," you tell the clerk. "That's a cute little number" - drips with irony doesn't it? - "right there. I'll take it."
Do you get a smile and overwhelming adulation when she opens your token of love? Why yes, and presented with a cast-iron skillet. After regaining consciousness, you check your special little gift - cute little number, right? - and the horrible truth illuminates your mind. Fourteen is not about eight. You quickly realize, 14 is a way big number. Eight is EXACTLY right. This is a lesson in survival.
You may now begin to find yourself irritated by others who do not have your capacity for learning. Consider your experience at the car lot. These guys have always lived in the about world. "What kind of mileage can we expect?" you ask the trustworthy salesman.
"Oh, about 250 miles to the gallon."
"And how much are the monthly payments?"
"About 12 dollars."
Tired of work? Head on down to the Social Security office and tell them you're ready to retire. You're only 50? Don't let that be a hindrance. You're about 65.
Taxes? Does that $12,000 tax liability have you dithering? Send the I.R.S. $10,000. Ten is about 12.
There’s so much more. The sprinters are in the blocks. They’re off and we have a new world record. They covered about 100 meters in about eight seconds. In the pole vault, it looks like our hero has just vaulted about 25 feet. That new shot putter? His shot weighs about 16 pounds, and he tossed it about 120 feet.
The pundits these days are noticing that we - the unwashed public - are ahead of our representatives. Wait until Congress grasps this. National debt? About a buck-and-a-half per citizen. Unemployment? About one-per-cent, and next year, which will be about 2055 or so, it should be about zero. Everything will be just about right.