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Jumping to safety (G)


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One night, a twin-engine puddle jumper was flying somewhere above New Jersey. There were five people on board: the pilot, Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, the Dahlia Lama, and a hippie. Suddenly, an illegal oxygen generator exploded loudly in the luggage compartment, and the passenger cabin began to fill with smoke. The cockpit door opened, and the pilot burst into the compartment.

"Gentlemen," he began, "I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that we're about to crash in New Jersey. The good news is that there are four parachutes, and I have one of them!" With that, the pilot threw open the door and jumped from the plane.

Michael Jordan was on his feet in a flash. "Gentlemen," he said, "I am the world's greatest athlete. The world needs great athletes. I think the world's greatest athlete should have a parachute!" With these words, he grabbed one of the remaining parachutes, and hurtled through the door and into the night.

Bill Gates rose and said, "Gentlemen, I am the world's smartest man. The world needs smart men. I think the world's smartest man should have a parachute, too." He grabbed one, and out he jumped.

The Dalai Lama and the hippie looked at one another. Finally, the Dalai Lama spoke. "My son," he said, "I have lived a satisfying life and have known the bliss of True Enlightenment. You have your life ahead of you. You take a parachute, and I will go down with the plane."

The hippie smiled slowly and said, "Hey, don't worry, pop. The world's smartest man just jumped out wearing my backpack."




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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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