Justify left right left

Justify left right left

Ross_Murray_FlyingBy Ross Murray

So after the revolution comes – as we all know it will – they’ll call it “The Great Estimation” because everyone will be rounded up.

Herded into vast Purification Centres, citizens will appear before an assessor to determine their usefulness to the Noble New Society.

“State your name and occupation,” the assessor will ask me.

“Ross Murray,” I’ll say. “I’m a mlmppmmhm…”

“Speak up,” he’ll say without lifting his eyes from his long list of names. “Your occupation, please.”

“I – I’m a writer.”

The assessor will raise his head and look me up and down as I stand there in my state-issued pantaloons.

“Another writer,” he’ll grunt. “What kind of writer?”

“Well, mostly I write stories that are, you know, funny.”

“Funny,” the assessor will say. “Define ‘funny.’”

“I write about things that happen in my life or the world around me, quirky anecdotes and stuff or, ummm… whimsy.”

“Yes, I see you have a way with words,” the assessor will mutter. “And what is the purpose of this ‘whimsy’?”

“To make people smile, to entertain them,” I’ll say, wringing my hands.

“So it has no practical purpose then,” the assessor will say as he jots down a note beside my name.

“Yes. I mean, no,” I’ll stammer. “The purpose is, well… humour makes people feel good. It takes their minds off their troubles for a while.”

“You mean it distracts them from the Honourable Work set forth by Our Great Leader?” the assessor will scold.

“Hey,” I’ll ask. “How do you talk in capital letters like that? Anyway, you see, humour holds a lens up to society. Granted, a somewhat cracked lens, but the distortions and exaggerations, the refractions, they help us understand our true selves better. And though intangible, humour’s worth and impact are genuine, just like literature and art. Yeah, art… I’m an artist.”

While I’m speaking, the assessor will have keyed my name into a computer and drawn up a database with all my personal information, what with privacy having been banned by the Bureau of National Security And None Of Your Business. “And yet I see here,” he’ll say, “that your collective output of so-called ‘literature’ includes 73 fart jokes and 216 examples of your kids saying the darnedest things. This, to you, is art?”

“Well, the other day, my daughter asked if she could use my room to do her mandatory reading of Our Great Leader Is A Really Swell Guy. ‘What’s wrong with your own room?’ I asked. ‘I can concentrate better in your room,’ she said. ‘It’s cursed with concentration.’ You have to admit that’s pretty darned cute.”

LiQ_Mag_Abonnez-vousThe assessor will only stare.

“Is there any practical value to your writing at all?” he’ll ask. “Any special abilities you have?”

“I can get ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ stuck in people’s heads just by writing down the title.”

The assessor will sigh. “Anything else?”

“Ooo! I know what I can do for you,” I’ll cry. “I can write satires about your enemies.”

“Satire and irony are WMDs – writings of mass deception – and thus controlled by the state,” the assessor will recite mechanically.

“How could we be sure you were not, in fact, satirizing Our Great Leader?”

“I’m really not that subtle. Seriously, how do you do that Capital Thing? Ooo! I think I just did it!”

“I’m sorry, Citizen Murray, this ‘skill’ of yours provides no practical contribution to the Honourable Work, not to mention that there are thousands and thousands of self-proclaimed ‘writers’ out there.

Surely you must have other abilities. Manual labour? Can you dig a ditch, a grave?”

“I tend to blister when I dig, or rake leaves. Or golf. Or make cookies. So…”


“I’m really more of a laissez-faire kind of guy.”


“That’s math, right?”

The assessor will put down his pencil. “I’m sorry, Citizen Murray, unless I can find some practical use for you…”

“Wait wait wait!” I’ll interrupt. “I used to be a journalist! I could do that.”

The assessor will look up at me, pause, then pick up a phone and press a key.

“Yes,” he’ll say into the phone. “I have another one for immediate execution.”

Categories: Opinion

About Author

Ross Murray

Ross Murray is an award-winning humorist and radio contributor and the author of two books ‘You’re Not Going to Eat That, Are You?’ and ‘Don’t Everyone Jump at Once’. Raised in Nova Scotia, Ross has lived in the Eastern Townships of Quebec since the early 1990’s with his wife Debbie, four children and far too many pets. After all this time, Ross feels comfortable calling himself a Townshipper; his neighbours call him something else.


  1. qcbrit
    qcbrit 28 January, 2014, 10:35

    Having just read this, “article/story” I am left speechless…. has anybody else heard this before? Is this not what happened to the Jews in WWII? Were they not all rounded up, with the ones not able to fulfill a role sent for immediate termination? Unless Ross Murray has never read or heard about WWII I find it hard to believe he conceived this “story” without noticing any similarities to the plight of the Jews. It certainly wasn’t funny then and I don’t think it’s funny now.

Only registered users can comment.