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My cousin Thelma thinks she knows everything, but she believes all kinds of crazy shit. About once a month I go to a fortune teller with her. I don’t believe any of that crap, but I go with Thelma because I like her. She keeps trying to get me to go to church with her, but I don’t believe that stuff either.

Then Thelma got this computer program called Your Fortune. You answer a lot of questions on the program, and then it will be able to make predictions about you based on what you had said. It sounded like a lot of hog wash to me, but Thelma insisted it was really good. PC Magazine had given it a good rating.

It took about an hour to answer all the questions. In the end it knew more about me than my mother did. Then Thelma said, “Go ahead. Give it a test.”

“Okay,” I said. “Fortune, tell me what I will be doing five years from now.”

In less than a minute the answer appeared on the screen: “You will be doing a low skills job.”

“What’s that mean?”

“You know, something like flipping hamburgers.”

Well, that was ridiculous. I was in the second semester at Weymouth Community College. My first semester grades hadn‘t been that hot, but I was sticking with it. My father had told me that I should study business, so I was majoring in accounting. I had a good future ahead of me. There was no way that I would be flipping hamburgers in five years.

“Give it another chance,” Thelma urged. “Ask it something else.”

“Okay,” I said, “Tell me about my love life.”

The machine said, “You will meet a short, blonde stranger.”

“That don’t mean a thing. Everyone is going to meet a lot of strangers.”

“No. Based on your age and other stuff, it knows you will be in a relationship soon. Since you’re only about 5’ 6”, it knows you would want someone shorter than you. Beside you told it that you liked blondes

“I don’t believe this crap anyway. How can a computer figure out personal stuff about you?”

“It asked a lot of questions about your beliefs and stuff. It uses that to figure out the kind of choices you’re apt to make. The more it knows about you, the better predictions it can make.”

“Okay, tell me if I am going to pass my mid-term exams.”

Thelma fiddled with the computer a little more. Then she said, “Sorry, Roy. Your Fortune says you will fail your exams.”

I didn’t believe that either.

A week later I was in the library, studying for my mid-terms. Sitting across from me was a cute blonde. Every time I stole a glance at her, I became less interested in debits and credits. Finally I said, “I’m getting tired of studying. How’d you like to grab a pizza?”

When she stood up, I saw how short she was. The machine’s words came back to me: “You will meet a short, blonde stranger.”

When I failed three of my mid-term exams, I realized that there was no way I could pass the semester, so I decided to drop out of college. I had been working part-time in a Quik-Mart, and there was an opening as a shift leader. I decided to apply for it.

Before I applied I went to see Thelma. She asked the machine if I was going to get the promotion. It didn’t answer the question, but it did say I was going to have a change. I figured that meant I would get the shift leader job.

When I went to Qui-Mart, I found that instead of me, they promoted Jeff Simpkins. Simple Simpkins, I used to call him. He was such a jerk! It really pissed me off. I gave the boss a piece of my mind, and he fired me.

I hadn’t eaten all day, so I stopped at a MacDonald’s to get a burger. As I walked in I saw a sign: Help Wanted. Apply Within.

I said a silent prayer and went in to ask to see the manager.






CARL PERRIN started writing when he was in high school. His short stories have appeared in The Mountain Laurel, Northern New England Review, Kennebec, Short-Story.Me, Mad Swirl, and CommuterLit among others. His book-length fiction includes Elmhurst Community Theatre, a novel, and RFD 1, Grangely, a collection of humorous short stories. He is the author of several textbooks, including Successful Resumes, and Get Your Point Across, a business writing text. The memoir of his teaching career Touching Eternity, was a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Award.



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