Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Wednesday, March 24, 1999

New contest
identifies the

I'VE come up with a new award. It's called the "Honolulu Lite Completely Unclear on the Concept Award."

With your help, we will confer this recognition on certain anonymous people who exhibit acts of absurdity above and beyond the usual level of muddle-headedness. I will kick off the competition with a few nominees and look forward to receiving your entries. For your submissions, you will receive absolutely nothing but the undying admiration of humanity for exposing the weak links in the gene pool.

My first nominee for the "Honolulu Lite Completely Unclear on the Concept Award" goes to the leaders of a Cub Scout troop that was raising money outside a shopping center. The kids were selling something -- I never learned what it was -- under the watchful eye of a couple of Scout mothers.

As I walked out of the store, I looked up to see a young boy standing in front of an automatic exit door. Before I could do anything, the door swung open, almost smashing the kid against a railing. He was nimble enough to just get out of the way.

After the door shut, the kid jumped back in front of the door and began playing with the hand railing.

I looked at one of the Cub Scout mothers who had watched the whole episode and said, "Hey, he's going to get hurt playing there."

"Oh, he's not one of ours," she said.

So I told the kid to get away from the door before he got splattered.

As I began to walk away, one of the little Scouts asked if I wanted to buy whatever it was they were selling.

The Scout mother obviously was completely unclear on the concept of what scouting is supposed to teach, which I assumed includes child safety and civic responsibility. Yet the mothers watched as this child risked serious injury simply because "he's not one of ours." Bad scouting mommies.

My second nomination goes to a computer company that has installed one of those labyrinth-like telephone answering systems that drive callers mad. We are used to them. But this one had a special twist. After spelunking through several levels of digital choices ("If you are dumb enough to think you will get to speak to a human, press 1. If you think you will be wasting the next 30 minutes of your life on this call, press 2.") After each choice regarding everything from the color of my computer manual to the serial number on a piece of internal hardware the size of a gnat's buttootsky, I waited at least 5 minutes, usually longer. Finally I reached the deep, dark dead end and the tape actually said: "To better serve you, this option has been canceled. Please dial the main number again."

To better serve me, they were not offering the service I needed. This is like a sign I saw on store window once: "Closed for Business." How can something be closed for business? It is either open for business or closed for NO business. Likewise, how can I be better served by receiving absolutely no service at all?

The computer company, aside from seriously abusing the language, is completely unclear on the concept of what service is: the act or means of serving; favor, courtesy, dispensation, kindness ... none of which, by the way, were options offered on the tape.

Those are the first nominations. Send yours to the address or e-mail below. To better serve you, I won't take any nominations by phone. In other words, the Honolulu Lite Phone Bank will be closed for calling.

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802

or send E-mail to or

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