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TRUE STORY (SO I'M TOLD)

If you think computers are a great invention!

In March 1997, a man living in Newton near Boston Massachusetts received a bill for his as yet unused credit card stating that he owed $0.00.

He ignored it and threw it away. In April he received another and threw that one away too. The following month the credit card Company sent him a very nasty note stating they were going to cancel his card if he didn't send them $0.00 by return of post. He called them, talked to them, they said it was a computer error and told him they'd take care of it.

The following month he decided that it was about time that he tried out the troublesome credit card figuring that if there were purchases on his account it would put an end to his ridiculous predicament. However, in the first store that he produced his credit card in payment for his purchases he found that his card had been canceled.

He called the credit card Company who apologized for the computer error once again and said that they would take care of it.

The next day he got a bill for $0.00 stating that payment was now overdue. Assuming that having spoken to the credit card company only the previous day the latest bill was yet another mistake he ignored it, trusting that the company would be as good as their word and sort the problem out.

The next month he got a bill for $0.00 stating that he had 10 days to pay his account or the company would have to take steps to recover the debt.

Finally giving in he thought he would play the company at their own game and mailed them a check for $0.00. The computer duly processed his account and returned a statement to the effect that he now owed the credit card company nothing at all.

A week later, the man's bank called him asking him what he was doing writing a check for $0.00. After a lengthy explanation the bank replied that the $0.00 check had caused their check processing software to fail. The bank could not now process ANY checks from ANY of their customers that day because the check for $0.00 was causing the computer to crash. The following month the man received a letter from the credit card company claiming that his check had bounced and that he now owed them $0.00 and unless he sent a check by return of post they would be taking steps to recover the debt. The man, who had been considering buying his wife a Computer for her birthday, bought her a typewriter instead.




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Mundane Journeys through an Amazing World begins with Interstate 80. Not the most engaging topic, I know, but when you think about it, I-80 runs all the way across the North American continent linking San Francisco and New York. It's not just a ribbon of asphalt, it's a portal to far away, almost magical places.

My visits to major cities like Tokyo, London and Washington DC have been business affairs. I haven't rode a lot of roller coasters or ridden in open air buses, but I have visited with senators, bought yams from the back of a truck and barely escaped complete embarrassment when I was introduced to Matt Wiener in Vegas.

As I wrote the book I realized that over the years exotic, distant places have become more like the mundane places I've called home. But, as it turns out, there really aren't any mundane places, only mundane ways of looking at things.

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Editor's Note: Be sure to check out my blog at michaelbissell.com/blog -- maybe not as funny as the 5,000+ jokes here, but I ramble about life, technology and other things that make the world... nutty.

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