Maybe Not Just Yet

Sipping wine with friends after class, I confess my dream: to one day – either from brain fever or a nasty spill – lose the filter that prevents me from acting on the inappropriate thoughts that flash in my mind throughout the day. I tell them that I want to become an anonymous vigilante, known only by the tag I leave behind in blood red spraypaint – Smackberry.
“Have you heard about the maniac running around the Loop?” they’ll ask each other, waiting in line at Starbucks.
“I know. I can’t believe they haven’t caught the guy.”
“I never thought I’d say this, but I just don’t feel safe anymore.”
Like a wild animal, I stalk my prey: harried, self-important office drones who can’t look up from their Blackberries long enough to realize that they’re blocking the entire staircase while people are trying desperately to get to their destinations. People who enter a revolving door but are too busy double-thumb texting to actually push the door, relying on others to carry their weight. Co-workers who come to strategic planning meetings and glance up every four minutes only to give the impression that they are actually paying attention to the discussion instead of scrolling through unimportant email after unimportant email.
My only weapons are my cheetah-like speed and a rolled up copy of Crain’s Chicago. Disguised by some sort of bandit mask – maybe I’m wearing roller skates or something, too, because I’m not a very fast runner – I sneak up on my victims and smack the Blackberries right out of their hands so that they fly high into the air and smash on the concrete.
I poke them in the chest with the magazine for emphasis and then run – or skate – away, as my victory cry carries off into the distance, “Smackberry!”
One day, they will fear my wrath.
I walk into the lobby of my office building and see a crowd of harried office drones who have gathered around the heating vents.
It appears a tiny and disoriented sparrow has flown into our lobby. I can hear feathers against metal as it tries to hide in the vents. A pile of notebooks, briefcases and Blackberries has amassed on the floor as people stop to help catch the bird.
A man on one side, a woman on the other, they approach the bird sound. The man very gently reaches his hand underneath the vent, then cups the other hand over it as he pulls out the scared, but noisy, bird. He holds the bird close against his stomach as he walks out and places it in the bushes outside.
He grabs his notebook, his briefcase and his Blackberry and walks to the elevators.
I get on the train behind a stylish yet harried 30-something woman who alternates between typing away on her laptop and dashing off quick emails on her Blackberry. A slightly disheveled 40-ish woman asks if the woman would mind moving her bag so she can sit down next to her. The woman obliges, and instantly returns to her work.
“You’re really fast. At that.”
She looks over, “I’m sorry?”
The woman mimes typing in the air, “That. You must do it a lot.”
“Oh, yes.”
She shifts in her seat and returns to her work.
“Oh, I’m sorry – I know I probably smell. It’s just, I’ve been really busy lately and didn’t have time to shower. I don’t usually let myself go like…”
The business woman is confused, “What? Oh, no. No. I… I was just leaning against the window. It’s fine.”
“I was running to make the train. Didn’t think I was going to catch it. The doors almost slammed right on me!”
She’s wearing a black sleeveless shirt that reveals a long thin bruise on her upper arm. I search for a thumbprint. She fans herself with a magazine, sets it down on her lap, then reaches back to lift her bottle-blond hair as if to pull it into a ponytail. Before she lets her hair drop, I can see the fine, damp strands stuck to her neck and beads of sweat dripping down.
She reaches into her purse and pulls out a Discman, fiddles with the cord for a moment, then starts listening to her music.
“It’s not too loud, is it?”
“Hm? No.”
“Okay, good. I just got this CD player and I like to listen to it. It helps make the time go faster.”
The train conductor comes down our aisle. “Where you headed?”
“Oh. Oh no. Seven?”
She looks down at her purse, “I thought it was $5.65?”
“There’s a $2 fee if you buy the ticket on the train.”
“Oh, I…”
She looks down into her purse again, but before she can look back up, the woman next to her hands her a $5 bill.
“What? Oh… are you sure?”
“Yes, please,” she smiles.
“Oh. Oh, bless your heart.”
She hands the woman her change and thanks her several more times. She puts her headphones back on as the other woman scrolls through her emails.
One Day
They’re safe for now. I’ll set the mask aside for the time being, as I have seen the good in their kind. But know that Smackberry is watching. Always watching.

13 Responses to “Maybe Not Just Yet”

  1. shari Says:

    Ooooh, ooooh, oooh, I’d be the PERFECT sidekick: Smackberry & Shari. It rhymes! Plus, I’d always be like Barney Fife in the revolving doors, so the slapstick angle so essential to good entertainment would be covered. I can’t wait for the Blackberry jackass factor to unleash us on the world!

  2. Cap Says:

    This is why I don’t have a blackberry. I live in fear of Smackberry coming to the rescue of innocent humans and causing me to actually be nice.

  3. Hap Says:

    I dibs the role of Hap, the perfectly efficient majordomo, whose taciturn reserve is broken by only the occasional droll observations that break the case wide open.

  4. jenny Says:

    shari: it’s true – we superheroes can always use some good comic relief in our sidekicks. plus, you can shield me from bullets with your 6-pack abs.
    cap: sometimes it’s best just to avoid the temptation altogether.
    hap: maybe i need to form a justice league of sorts. but a vigilante justice league.

  5. Don Says:

    Economy, economy: “Vigilance League”. I’ll carry the atomic sceptre.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Dear Jenny,
    My thirteen year-old nephews (who are fine young men) said to me, “Auntie Viv why don’t you have a Blackberry? You should totally get one!”
    When I was thirteen I had to dial my friends on a rotary dial and could walk only as far as the curly cord would let me.
    What has become of us.

  7. claire Says:

    Excellent. You simultaneously had me agreeing with your frustrations and restored some of my faith in humanity.
    Then I remembered one of my favorite people on the planet, whom I haven’t seen in years now, has a blackberry. And he sends me short emails from it. He’s quite generous though, so I don’t think Smackberry would have a problem with him.

  8. delmer Says:

    I know you’ve already had an offer for a sidekick, but I’d like to toss my hat into the ring.
    I could be your trusty sidekick who smashes Sidekicks.
    I’d even let you call me Dingle. We’d be Smack- and Dingleberry

  9. teahouseblossom Says:

    Yes, I just got a Crackberry, and I try to avoid using it whenever possible!

  10. jenny Says:

    don: wait… maybe *i* want an atomic scepter too!
    vivian: and do you remember a time w/o answering machines? when the phone would just ring and ring and ring and then the person would finally give up?
    claire: your friend is safe, fear not!
    delmer: there’s no way i’m having a sidekick named dingleberry. how will we strike fear in the hearts of criminals then?
    THB: you’re an example to us all!

  11. churlita Says:

    I hate it when I’m trying to judge people and then they go and do something nice and I have to feel bad.

  12. Tracy Lynn Says:

    That sounds like a job for RABBIT HEAD.

  13. Cheryl Says:

    I hate it when bitches turn out to be nice, which is what happens every time I run into someone I knew from high school. In a weird way it makes me even more angry at them.

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