“Signs of the Times” by James Jay Schifrin


image022There was quite a stir in Patronage County last week when it was discovered that someone had been tampering with the signs at the courthouse.

Rick Schottleclooney, the area’s number one leading TV anchorman, pre-empted four-and-one-half hours of afternoon soap operas to treat viewers to another award-winning “Special Report.” Linked by remote cameras at each of the three commissioners’ law offices, Schottleclooney got nowhere trying to uncover the scandal.

“Tell our audience, commissioners, why the name of the courthouse was changed to COURT HOUSE—two words in 16-inch-high silver letters, when everybody knows it’s all one word,” Schottleclooney challenged.

“We had a long discussion about whether it should be one word or two,” said Commissioner Pilfer. “Then we let our secretary decide.”

“People in Patronage County are stupid,” said Commissioner Filch. “They can’t read long words.”

“That’s right,” agreed Commissioner Swindle. “We even had to change the WO MEN’S restrooms, the PROSE CUT OR’s and TREA SURER’S office, along with DOME STIC RELATIONS and JU VENILE court.”

“But isn’t it true, Commissioner Swindle, that the Swindle Sign Company installed all the signs and that plans were drawn by the Swindle Architect Company on specifications from your illegitimate son who works in the building department?” Schottleclooney asked.

The commissioners hung touch. It was as if they’d even rehearsed their answers. After the newscast, they got together to celebrate. “Schottleclooney’s a jerk,” they all laughed. “He should’ve figured out the new signs were being paid for by the word, instead of by the letter.” 

This op-ed column first appeared in the feisty Mt. Washington Press on October 14, 1981.