28 Aug 2000 hiller   » (Journeyer)

A thought on the Kursk disaster (yeah, last week's news, I know). It reminds me of a joke that goes something like this:

A man is going on a week-long vacation, and leaves his brother (who also lives in town) with the responsibility of taking care of his cat (feeding him, making sure that he has fresh water, changing the litter about mid-week, etc.) Halfway through the week, his brother gives him a call and the man asks how the cat's doing.

"Yeah, I was just about to get to that," responded his brother. "She died on Monday. The vet said that it was a heart attack. I'm really sorry you didn't get to see her again."

"Okay," says the man, a little distraught, "I appreciate your forthrightness in telling me about this right away, but... in the future, when you have news like that, it'll soften the blow a little bit if you lead up to it."

"How do you mean?"

"Well, instead of saying that the cat's dead, you'd say that the cat ran out of the house, climbed up onto the roof, and is refusing to come down. Then a few hours later you'll call again and say that she's still up there and you've called the fire department to try to get her down. Then in another few hours you call and say that the fireman managed to grab hold of her, but she scrabbled away and fell off the roof, and she's in the veterinary ER now. And then you tell me that she didn't pull through. That's the way to do it."

"Okay. I think I understand."

"So, how's Mom?"

"Well, Mom's on the roof..."

It makes me wonder whether the reports of crewmembers radioing for help after the accident or tapping on the hull in Morse code were really true at all.

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