Conspiracy in a soapbox

Stop the Presses column by Chris Graham

“The announcer said my kid’s name, and now I’m being told that the other kid won. I want to file a protest.”

This was my thanks for serving as the public-address announcer for the annual soapbox derby this weekend, ladies and germs.

“Seriously, who do I protest to?”

“Um …”

I was at a loss for words – one, because I had not in fact announced his kid’s name as the winner; on that one, I was sure.

And two, er …

“He’s just the announcer. Nothing he says is official. The official scorer’s word is final.”

That was the party-line answer, anyway.

One of the derby officials delivered the news to that effect.

Me personally, I hated that we had to leave it at that – because there’s a dad out there who seems to think that I said his kid had won his heat, and that somebody (ostensibly me) had cheated them out of what was rightfully theirs.

I know that is the case because he argued his point, you know, loudly – not to mention that he borrowed from the Senate in terms of the way people sometimes use filibusters to belabor whatever they’re trying to say or not say.

The issue is – I didn’t say that his kid had won. And neither had the second PA announcer up in the scoring tower with me.

Nobody – official or otherwise – had said that his kid had won.

There was no convincing him of this, though.

“I’ve got people here telling me one story, people at the top of the hill telling me another one – I just want to know what happened.”

It would have been one thing had we not explained it 100 times.

“Something funny’s going on here.”

No, I wanted to say, I’m a humor columnist, and this definitely doesn’t qualify as funny.

OK, so it could be considered funny that somebody would actually think that the announcer guy was conspiring with the official scorer to throw the derby – you know, like it was my plan all along four years ago when I first volunteered to spend my day keeping people apprised with what was going on during the races, to one day use this power to my own advantage and make sure that I could influence who won and lost.

But, d’oh, I slipped up, and said that the one kid that I had wanted to win had actually lost – and covered my tracks by insisting otherwise.

What else did he want us to say?

“This is plain ridiculous,” he said as he stomped away.

Hey, at least we parted on a point of agreement.


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