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April 14, 2010

First world diary

Day One: We’ve arrived in the United States on our mission trip. We are in a state called Kentucky in a village called Louisville. It is a land of plenty. It is hard not to become tourists in such a shiny and fast-moving society, but we are focused on our mission to help these people achieve happiness despite their oppressive wealth.

We got a glimmer of what we are up against when we went out for our first meal, at a place called “Chili’s.” Perhaps it is a funny joke in America to name your restaurant after ingredients you do not use. I do not wish to complain, but there was no flavor, each plate held enough food for four people, and our American friends finished eating in just a couple of minutes. Perhaps the unhappiness these people suffer is related to their diet? It’s hard to believe there could be such a simple solution, so I will be patient in my observations.

Our hosts live in a neighborhood that is filled with mansions as far as the eye can see. It is not the custom to walk here even though there are sidewalks. Each home could house 30 people, but there seem to be only a few living in each house. Each person eats in a different room while watching a different “high-definition” television. Last night, in a moment of panic, I excused myself and went outside to look up at the stars to regain my bearings but could not see many stars, even though there were no clouds in the sky. A further clue?

Day Two: Today was a most fascinating day. We went with our hosts to conduct their business. Everybody in America is most concerned with “productivity.” Productivity is their work, which is done in “meetings.” In meetings, people sit around tables inside rooms with no air and type on small machines called “phones.” The words they type are messages to other people who are in different meetings in different rooms.

These small machines seem to be connected to Americans’ unhappiness, but they cannot stop typing on them. In fact, I heard that some cannot even stop long enough to move their bowels and that many small machines are destroyed each year when they fall into toilets. Despite this obvious sign that these machines bring unhappiness, most Americans who drop them in toilets go right out and buy new ones anyway.

Day Three: Today we went to a “sports bar.” This is a large festival room with dozens of televisions showing sporting contests. Instead of doing sports, people watch them. It was very loud, and I had to excuse myself to get sick in the toilet. There were televisions even inside the toilet room, but they were showing news instead of sports. One angry announcer said Americans have a constitutional right to pursue happiness. Do all Americans know this? I will try to learn more.

Day Four: I’m beginning to think our mission is hopeless. Instead of pursuing happiness, most Americans seem to be pursuing what is called “stuff.” Our hosts took us to a large building called “Target” and to another, even larger building called “The Mall.” People go to these places to buy stuff that is made out of petroleum. To get stuff — such as “Crocs” and “Tupperware” — people show small cards called “Visa.” But in order to get Visa to buy stuff, they must do productivity, which requires typing on little machines in meetings or on the toilet. I’m afraid that stopping this cycle could be more than we can accomplish on this mission trip.

Day Five: I’ve been reprimanded by my countrymen and forbidden from speaking for the remainder of the trip. During a gathering with our hosts to discuss their plight, I suggested some Americans come to our country to see how we live in happiness despite our lack of stuff. Now I am not allowed to speak in public. I am so foolish. I should have known an American delegation to our country would risk infecting our people with unhappiness.

Day Six: I met a happy American at last. He said it was because of strong medicine called “See Alice.” However, if his happiness lasts longer than four hours, he has to go to a hospital. We travel home tomorrow — and not a minute too soon!