Scene: The 5:15 Metra North Line train, last car. September 1993.

Characters: Two over-50 executives in suits. One seems angry; the other listens and nods.

Angry guy: We made a contract 27 years ago. She’s trying to back out of it now?

Listener: Mmmm, you know how they are…

Angry guy: I mean what’s with all this self-fulfillment stuff? We decided she’d take care of the kids and the house and I would work. I hope she doesn’t really believe we can renegotiate. We have a contract.

Listener: My wife–

Angry guy: I mean like yesterday, I was in the basement and she yelled down the stairs, would I hit the button on the dryer? I mean, really, don’t they realize there is a learning curve involved? I don’t know what button to push, while she’s had over 20 years experience at this. It just wouldn’t be efficient for me to start now.

Listener: A contract’s a contract.

Angry guy: Damn right.

–Virginia Carlson

Dear Reader:

The woman on the phone had missed a few critical business appointments. She had a big tough voice, none too apologetic-sounding–but she had her reasons: She’d been at the hospital with her husband, who’d been undergoing emergency triple bypass surgery.

I told her I was sorry to hear that and asked how her husband was doing.

“Well, I’ll tell ya,” she said, big voice booming, “the good Lord decided he didn’t want another dumb Polack, so he’s still alive.”

“Good,” I think I said.

“Yeah,” she continued, “if he had died, I would’ve been so mad I would’ve woken him up and shot him.”

–R. Jones