What with all the depressing tales in news reports and all the lawsuits I read every week, it's not easy to shock me.
I thought I'd become hardened to just about everything.
And then I was traveling down the freeway the other day and a news reader almost casually announced that the Los Angeles City Council had decided to eliminate 4,000 jobs - BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!
I almost drove off the road.
A wholesale slaughter of bureaucrats?
I've never been a fan of people working for the government -- though some certainly try hard and do a wonderful job - but I can't condone simply killing them. Surely, there must be a better way to deal with a fiscal crisis.
And, surely, I thought, that radio reporter must be exaggerating.
I checked the newspaper the next day. It said the same thing - jobs must be eliminated by any means necessary.
Oh, the humanity!
Some of you out there may be thinking, "Isn't that phrase a trifle vague? Isn't that the equivalent of passing a law that says 'Please do something?'"
Well, yeah. But is a directive that includes the obvious option of mass murder not something that should worry us?
Clearly, some guidance is necessary before the bloodshed begins.
Fortunately, I'm here to help. There are alternatives to death camps when it comes to eliminating jobs.
Here are just a few:
Hide. You can't do your job if you don't know where it is. If you're running a city department, abandon your office and reveal your new secret location only to the employees you do not wish to eliminate.
Yes, downtown will be flooded with a wave of bureaucrats aimlessly searching for their cubicles, but at least they'll still be alive.
Offer emigration. We've spent decades shipping jobs overseas. Why not ship the people who can do them there too?
Surprise the public servants with roundtrip air tickets to exotic countries and tell them they've earned a special vacation bonus for their outstanding work.
And then cancel the return flight tickets as soon as they've left.
India will hardly notice an extra 4,000 people.
Naked bosses. Require all supervisors to report to work naked. There should be more than enough employees running away screaming to reach that 4,000 job elimination goal.
Remember, this is a humane alternative to mass slaughter. Supervisors can get dressed after enough people leave.
ANOTHER MONEY-MAKING IDEA. Great inventions are born from accidents and great ideas can be born from misunderstandings.
I get law-related press releases, so imagine my surprise the other day when spotting a press release with this headline: "Vista on Courthouse Apartments Sold to Equity Residential."
And not just any apartments. This was a "luxury residential community."
Now imagine my disappointment after finally figuring out that "Courthouse" was just part of Arlington, Va. and not an actual courthouse.
But isn't this a wonderful idea?
Build some luxury apartments in non-vital spots in the courthouse - how many of you would really miss the cafeteria? - and rent them out to lawyers who spend a lot of time in the building or to law firms who might want to entertain clients during breaks in trials.
For that matter, City Hall could do the same thing.
You make some money and maybe save some of those jobs.