[Breaking News: from another strangely irrelevant moment in our news room…]
A few moments ago, democratic congressman Peter DeFazio left our newsroom following a 45-minute visit. Congressman DeFazio comes to our office two or three times a year with the intention of treating us to an informative, low-key press conference of sorts. And each time, my editor takes an audible gulp whenever I open my mouth to speak. On today’s list of topics was dredging of small ports, school funding and helium reserves.
That’s right: helium reserves.
Which topic do you think I chose to weigh in on..?
DeFazio: Helium is a natural resource that is only available in a few parts of the world. Oregon has its own reserves, which could be sold to help fund our school budget shortfall for the next two years until we get the necessary legislation passed to assure funding.
Me: I have a question about that.
Editor: [GULP] Sorry. Something in my throat.
Me: Congressman, how are we assuring that our helium reserves are safe from an attack?
DeFazio: *Looks at my editor, then back to me* Excuse me?
Me: Are you concerned at all that a well-orchestrated attack could devastate the party clown community, not to mention the mylar-balloon-enjoying public?
Editor: [rubbing the artery in her left arm]
Me: I’m just saying if we don’t take the security of our helium reserves seriously, some day there may be a call to the State Capitol by someone with a Chipmunk-like voice telling us he has taken control of our entire helium supply.
DeFazio: *Smiling* Um…
Me: It sounds like a Bruce Willis movie, I know. But this is no Hollywood movie script.
Editor: [Attempting to burn a hole through my head with her eyes]
DeFazio: *Slowly beginning to smile* I remember now. Last time I was here, you asked me about supporting an ice machine for the local fishing community, and because the one in your refrigerator was broken. That way, you could just walk over from your house whenever you need ice.
Me: I went ahead and just bought some ice cube trays.
Editor: Has anyone seen the portable defibrillator?
DeFazio: [Shakes my hand] Thanks for that; I needed a laugh.
(Note: This incident was only slightly exaggerated; I still haven’t bought any ice cube trays yet.)