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The Usefulness Committee

A Play in One Act
by Robert J. Hesselberth


Time: The Present.Each

The Scene:  The action takes place in an executive conference room on the 43rd floor of the MacroSoft Computer Accessories and Software Company headquarters in Seattle, New York, a suburb of Pittsford on the beautiful shores of the Erie Canal.  The room has plush draperies, cherry wall paneling, and is furnished with a long oval conference table surrounded by 18 heavily upholstered, leather executive swivel chairs equipped with heated back vibrators with Bluetooth remote controls and remotely extendable footrests.  Only seven of the chairs are occupied on the upstage side of the table.

The Action: The Product Instruction Book Review subcommittee of the MacroSoft Legal CYA Department is having a meeting to review a portion of the instruction microbooklet that comes with every computer mouse pointing device that the company sells.  The Chairman calls the meeting to order.


Chair:  OK, folks, let's get started.  I see that seven of our eight members are here.  Where's the representative from the Offshore Call-Taker Product Support Team?

Assistant Chair:  She's taking a class in Enhancing Your Accent Thickness.  Said she'd be late.  At least that's what I think she said.

Chair:  OK, we'll go ahead and start.  Last week's meeting covered the "DANGER Suffocation Hazard" paragraph.  Does anyone want me to read the minutes?  All we did was add a sentence warning the owner and any babies or small children not to put the mouse in their mouths.

(The Chair pauses while he looks around the table.)

"Seeing none, we'll proceed with today's agenda, which calls for us to review Paragraph 17 dot 23 dot 0 dot 5 parens k close parens, titled "Cleaning Your Mouse."  Would the representative from our Office Housekeeping and After-Hours Environmental Restoration Crew like to share the results of your review?

Member #6:  Yes.  Right now, the draft paragraph reads, "Clean with a cloth."  We believe it should be amended to read, "Clean with a soft cloth."

Member #4:  I agree, but it should be a "soft, lint-free cloth."

Member #7:  Yes, you never know when some lint will damage a high-tech piece of equipment like a mouse.

Member #3:  Our Quality Control Department believes that our mice aren't subject to lint damage.  It's a major advantage we have over the competition.  Ergo, there's no need for a lint-free cloth.

Member #4:  Oh yes there is.  From the perspective of the Litigation Department, we need to protect against the possibility that the mouse isn't as well protected against lint damage as we think.  In addition, what if a customer uses a cloth with more aggressive lint than we used in our tests?  And further, what if that lint damage causes an injury to the customer?  Can you imagine the legal claims that we'd face in court?  We might even have to face criminal charges.

Chair:  Ok, it sounds like a soft, lint-free cloth is required.  Do I hear a motion?

Member #4:  I move that we amend Paragraph 17 dot 23 dot 0 dot 5 parens k close parens, titled "Cleaning Your Mouse" to read, "Clean with a soft, lint-free cloth."

Chair:  The motion is before us.  Is there any discussion?  (He looks around the table.)  Hearing none, we'll proceed to vote.  All in favor?

(All raise their hands.)

Chair: (Looks at the Assistant Chair) Let the minutes reflect that the vote was unanimous in favor of the motion.

Chair:  That completes our agenda items for today.  Is there any new business?

Member #5:  It has come to the attention of my Instruction Booklet Production Department that the type in our booklets is too large.  We could save money if the type were changed to five-point instead of the present seven-point.  That would eliminate one page of the booklet and save 0.23% of its direct cost.  There is also a side benefit… The customer is less likely to read it, and therefore less likely to sue us because of something it says or doesn't say.

Member #4:  The Litigation Department would like us to consider another item that would improve the booklet.  It's the thickness of the paper.  Since it's printed on both sides, if the pages were made thinner, the text on the backside of a page would show through, making the text on the front side harder to read.

Member #3:  The Quality Control Department would have to insist that the same thing would happen if someone reads the backside of the page.  The Engineering Department would need to conduct a study.

Chair:  We'll put those items on our agenda for November of next year.  We don't want to reduce the type size or thin the paper any earlier, or we won't be able to read it to amend the remaining paragraphs.  If there's no more new business, the meeting is adjourned.  We'll meet again next week, same time, same place.  Thank you all for your good work.

(All rise and begin leaving the room as the lights dim and the curtain falls.)

The End







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