A twisting country road slides along a steep hill. It's raining. No,
it's snowing. A white picket fence lines the right side of the road.
Darkened houses with only the occasional outdoor light are
barely-distinguishable outlines in the gloom of a rural twilight.
Suddenly, a blue Chevy Cavalier comes rocketing down the road, barely
making the first turn. The engine revs as the driver downshifts,
taking the hairpin turn at a dangerous clip, finally skidding sideways
to come to a halt mere inches from the "Stop Here" line at the bottom
of the hill.
Loud bass sounds can barely be heard through the tinted windows. It
hardly sounds like Snoop Dogg, but rather more like a recording of the
1812 overture, probably one with the live canon dealies. A blonde
woman wearing a leopard print hat can be made out, grinning maniacally
and clenching the steering wheel in white knuckles. The clutch comes
out, the tires spin, and she's off again.
Inside the car, the woman can be heard muttering, "Anlon this. Anlon
that. Everybody wants Anlon. Anlon can you substitute for English
tomorrow? Anlon can you report on Friday and we'll tell you what
you're teaching when you get here. Anlon, can I go to the bathroom?
I forgot my pencil in my locker, Miss Anlon, can I go get it? Why
haven't you signed up for the researcher forum yet, Anlon? Where's
that researcher Anlon? Anlon, what's the box called under a satellite
dish? Everybody freaking wants an answer out of me. Will it never
end?" The mutt in the back seat pants and nudges the woman's elbow
with her head. Glancing over her shoulder, she gently tugs the dog's
closest ear and says, "You're right. It's my job. That's why I
signed up to be a researcher in the first place."
Jamming an earbud into her ear and dialing between upshifts, the woman
calls up the web browser on her cell phone. "Stupid text-only
interface." A few more key punches brings up Google. Typing on the
obscenely small buttons, the woman carefully logs in to her researcher
There it is, staring her in the face. A question from Probonopublico,
directed specifically at her. Glancing back and forth between the
road and her cell's screen, she reads the question for what seems like
the thousandth time. "Can you please tell me what they call the
little Box under a Satellite Dish?" Downshifting to navigate a
particularly wicked hairpin, she mulls over her approach one more
Should she continue to lurk, even though she's been specifically
requested? Should she endeavor to give a serious answer? Or should
she shoot back the first thing that popped into her head--a wisecrack
that might or might not go over so well with a fellow researcher? On
the one hand, the other researcher has given hints of his own wicked
wit. "Make me laugh indeed," she thinks with a snort. But then to go
the extra ten feet for the slam-dunk answer? Visions of her Compleat
Works of Shakespeare loom in her head, and she wonders if she can get
away with indirectly referencing Ol Will's *other* pun on "little
box"? Then again, she thinks, she's not so much as even commented on
a question. This researcher has no narrative voice to use to give
context to her ansewr. Whatever she decides to fire back will stand
forever in the Google archives as the first work she's completed for a
customer. A small slip, and she could be misunderstood, or worse,
thought rude to her customers.
Deciding that she's not getting anywhere, she yanks the earbud out of
her ear and concentrates on her driving. Maybe doing nothing is the
After a brief stop at her parents' house, three laps of the block
because her stupid neighbors are a. home from vacation, b. already
being very loud and c. have friends over taking up not only her
parking space but every other spare spot on the street, Anlon finally
staggers inside her tiny apartment. She is immediately accosted by
her cat, who has taken umbrage with her weekend absence. Having duly
fed the cat and worshi~~petted him, she settles down at her computer.
And there's the darn question blinking at her through her Google
"Can you please tell me what they call the little Box under a
Sighing, she clicks the "Answer Question" button and starts to type.
"Thank you for your patience with this question. I've been away for
the weekend, and had to dig out from under four inches of snow before
I could make my way home. I hope that, this being the 30th of March,
this seems as ridiculous to you as I felt it to be when engaged in the
act of finding my car's windscreen.
"I took the liberty of surveying every satellite dish between
Wernersville, PA and my home in Manheim, PA. It would seem that there
are, in fact, boxes of various shapes and sizes under most satellite
dishes. I regret to tell you, however, that while coming in a
remarkable variety of forms, those boxes are nothing more interesting
than the houses to which the satellite dish is affixed.
"However, a wise man once said that variety is the spice of life, so I
wish you well in finding the little box to meet your own needs.
"Hope you are well
Carefully she proofreads her answer, hoping it's not too cheeky.
Exhausted, she clicks "Post Answer" and staggers off to bed. The 7:30
am homeroom bell will be coming early tomorrow.