An empty cargo boat is sitting in the Puget Sound with nothing to do.

I see as many as three of them at once sometimes from the window of my apartment.

Tonight, my girlfriend is going to cut my hair, which might be the reason the Northwest is in a recession.

I mean, I can’t remember the last time I paid for a haircut. Or bought clothes. I just don’t buy stuff, in general.

And if I don’t buy stuff then the cargo boats have nothing to do. The toothpaste that the cargo boats carry depends on people buying it. If people don’t buy toothpaste, the world falls into ruin. Or at least, the world of the Northwest.

Oh crap–I’m drinking tea. The major coffee corporation of Seattle is laying people off and I’m not even supporting them.

Of course, I never have supported them. I like coffee shops that don’t look like someone came in and went ballistic with a brand stamper.

So I don’t go to Starbucks, but if I did, I’d be tempted to turn the furniture over and look for the brand. Do they really not brand the furniture? It seems inconceivable. Please, someone check for me.

Back to the topic at hand: I never have supported Starbucks. I haven’t paid for a haircut since the year 2000. I do still buy toothpaste. Logically, then, the recession is either not my fault, or the causes of this recession have existed for at least as long as I’ve avoided paying for a haircut.

I have a feeling, though, that fixing the economy will take a lot more than figuring out a way to fill three empty cargo boats in the Puget Sound.

Supporting detail: These are those boats that you see carrying those containers that look like they go on trains. Do they go on trains? I always kind of assumed they go on trains, but who knows? Knowing how typical human-designed systems work, they probably unpack these containers right into containers that are a similar shape for a train engine to pull.

I just asked my girlfriend, an ex-exporter, and she says those containers do not go on trains, or anything else. They’re pretty much specifically for shipping by boat.

So, basically, we have people packing toothpaste into a truck that takes the toothpaste to a boat, where they unpack the truck into containers that go on the boat. Then, the boat takes the containers to a port, where they unpack the containers into more trucks or into trains or something.

That makes absolute sense and confirms my faith in humanity’s incompetence.

Hey, I have an idea: let’s just make our own toothpaste. Surely modern science and agriculture can develop local toothpaste-making technology. Isn’t someone doing this already? I should look into that.

I wonder how much of the cargo on these boats is necessary. Of course, if we learn to live without the cargo boats (as apparently people are doing, since there are more of them not transporting goods), what happens to the boats? Do we let them drift?

That would be neat – all the nations set their cargo boats adrift, and maybe they all collect in the middle of an ocean somewhere and pirates settle there and create a water civilization. And they eat lots of fish.

And then the pirates could trade for goods. They could put some fish on a cargo boat and come back with toothpaste. (This is obviously going nowhere.)

And then of course: who wants to make toothpaste? I mean, isn’t that the job people try to avoid? Aren’t we all rocket scientists? Aren’t we all brain surgeons? Aren’t we all celebrity movie stars with expensive sunglasses on?

Yes, we are. At least, I’m sitting here, in an apartment with a view of the Puget Sound, and I feel like a rock star. Because I have a job. It could also be that I feel good because my job is not making toothpaste, but these days, I doubt it.

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AARON DIETZ is the author of Super, a novel from Emergency Press about commitment, crisis, paperwork, and heartbreak. Dietz's super powers include a high metabolism and the ability to put things back where he got them. He's also pretty good at math. As an instructional designer, Dietz has written online high school courses on computer programming, green design, and 3-D video game creation. It’s natural for him to write quizzes. He’s worked a decade in libraries. He’s also been paid to count traffic and once failed a personality test. Dietz writes for TheNervousBreakdown.com, blogs at aarondietz.us, and is an advisory editor of KNOCK Magazine.

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