You Think You're Losing It?
by Mad Dog
How do you lose 85
million of anything? Unless youíre Enron, of course, in which case you
can lose 85 million dollars a day and no one bats an eye, least of all
||We all lose things. We
lose our keys when itís time to leave the house and weíre running
late. We lose umbrellas, but only when itís raining. And we lose our
memory as we grow older, but hey, itís better than losing our mind.
But all thatís nothing. A French pharmaceutical company, trying to
prove once again that the French do everything better, managed to lose
85 million doses of smallpox vaccine. Yes, thatís million. Remind me
not to ask them to keep an eye on my dog while I run into the store to
It seems the vaccine has been sitting
in a freezer in Pennsylvania for the past 40 years but no one realized
it until a few months ago when someone stumbled across it while looking
for the last of the Tetanus Boosterô Popsicles heíd stashed there.
ďHey guys! Guess what I found behind the Cool Whip? Oh, thatís not
Cool Whip, itís from the artificial insemination lab.Ē Iíd sure
hate to be the one to have to clean out their lunch room refrigerator or
check under the company car seats. Lord knows how many green
fuzz-covered containers of spaghetti sauce and half-eaten burritos are
Youíd think a drug company would
keep better track of its things. After all, most of what they make
requires a prescription and, face it, itís tough to keep things out of
the hands of people who shouldnít have it if you donít even know if
you have it. Besides, how do you lose 85 million of anything? Unless
youíre Enron, of course, in which case you can lose 85 million dollars
a day and no one bats an eye, least of all your auditors.
Itís amazing how
dust from China can find its way across the Pacific Ocean yet you can
still miss that turnoff from the interstate with a AAA map, Yahoo
driving directions, and GPS in your hands.
Generally speaking, the more of something you have the better the
chance of not losing all of it, which is why itís always good to have
backups of everything. Extra socks, spare keys under the door mat, and
another pair or glasses which you may or may not be able to see well
enough to find are all good things to have. Of course one or two will
usually suffice; you donít need 84,999,999 backups. Well, not unless
youíre a French pharmaceutical company, anyway.
Theyíre not the only ones losing
things lately. In Los Angeles, the Sheriffís department discovered
theyíd misplaced some hair, blood, and semen samples which had been
collected as evidence in a number of cases. A large number of cases.
Okay, as many as 6,000 to be exact. They were planning on extracting DNA
from them so they could analyze it and hopefully match it with someone
they could arrest for the crimes, but itís a little late now. Unlike
the smallpox vaccine, which was all in one freezer, these 6,000 pieces
of evidence were scattered throughout several storage sites. So much for
the idea of keeping backups in a safe place.
This recent spate of large quantity
losses isnít confined to the United States. In China every year
thereís a huge annual dust storm which starts in the Gobi Desert and
makes its way to Beijing. Think of it as spring break transportation for
dust mites. Itís so bad most years that people have to wear
respirators because the air is filled with yellow dust. Well, that and
the fact that they like telling each other how much they look like
Michael Jackson. Before the plastic surgery. But this year, before the
dust could settle, so to speak, they lost it. And somehow it ended up
here in the United States. Thatís right, scientists detected Chinese
dust on the West Coast. Itís amazing how dust from China can find its
way across the Pacific Ocean yet you can still miss that turnoff from
the interstate with a AAA map, Yahoo driving directions, and GPS in your
hands. Itís also amazing that they can tell Chinese dust from the
stuff thatís coating your furniture.
When they do open up the freezer years from now they might
just discover the rest of the dust China lost, a few of the missing
pieces of evidence from Los Angeles County, or more importantly, the
Manimal Pez dispenser I lost years ago.
The English have been losing things too. Not only did they
recently lose the Queen Mother, they also seem to have lost their maps.
Or maybe it was their bearings. During a recent military training
exercise in Gibraltar, 20 Royal Marines carrying mortar launchers and
assault rifles jumped out of their boat and stormed the beach.
Unfortunately it turned out theyíd invaded Spain, not Gibraltar.
Obviously they forgot their AAA map, Yahoo driving directions, and GPS.
The members of the 254th Monty Python platoon apologized profusely,
clambered back on their boat, and immediately found a few million stray
doses of smallpox vaccine and a newspaper full of petrified fish and
chips under one of the seats. They say theyíll turn the vaccine over
to the French pharmaceutical company but the fish and chips are theirs.
Aventis Pasteur, the French
vaccine-loser, has graciously donated the newly discovered smallpox
vaccines to the United States to hold onto. Weíll store it in a
freezer somewhere and hope that someone remembers itís there just in
case we should ever need it. And who knows, when they do open up the
freezer years from now they might just discover the rest of the dust
China lost, a few of the missing pieces of evidence from Los Angeles
County, or more importantly, the Manimal Pez dispenser I lost years ago.
Iíve been wondering where that thing went to.
©2002 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country.
Read them before you lose them.