Nothings Worth Mentioning


News comes across this desk — it’s actually a very portable desk, designed to be tucked into the carry-on luggage and unleashed in-flight when nobody is expecting you to whip out that little drawer with all the old Snapple Facts bottle caps — from a correspondent in Indiana. It seems that nothing was stolen today from both a bank in Angola, and police investigating the initial report found that nothing was also stolen from a pharmacy and a bowling alley nearby.

This combines with earlier reports of nothing being stolen to form one of the biggest streaks of thefts of nothing that the country’s seen in years, ever since the gathering of modern nothing statistics started. That was in 1977, when rhetorical concerns about the pollution of everything lead to the tracking of nothing in previously unimaginable detail. But now there’ve been reports of nothing being stolen in cities across the United States, and for weeks.

Let’s put this in some perspective: if the current streak of days of nothing getting stolen extends another two days, reaching fourteen in all, this will nearly double the previous record streak of seven days and two hours. If it goes longer it could even treble the previous record, which would be good for uses of the word “treble” in the non-clef dialects of American English.

However, this could be hard throughout vast sectors of the economy. Think of all the people who’re involved in the making of nothing, or who ship nothing from place to place, who market it or sell it, or those who collect it in the hopes of getting in on the big bubbles of nothing that make the modern economy so fun and vacuum-friendly. If we can count on nothing being where we expect it to be we can enjoy a general confidence in the orderly working-out of the world. We don’t have to keep going back to check on it; we can resort to compulsively checking on nothing for the fun of it.

Now, though, this streak of nothing thefts throws the world into a very minor chaos, as if it didn’t have enough. It’s getting to where you can’t even keep a bit of nothing just to appreciate, or to sprinkle with sugar and slip into someone’s ear, without getting nervous about whether it’s still going to be there in the morning. The fears of this are going to get all the worse early in the afternoon, since morning is then as far away as it gets and there’s so little peeking ahead to make sure it all works out.

Few people take seriously the threat of nothing being stolen. Many police dispatchers will claim they’re sending nobody out to investigate a missing nothing, although they’re joking. A lack of nothing can easily overfill your day. Suppose you had a chunk of nothing in your guest room, over by the chair, where served among other things as a block against a ten-foot cube of goldfish crackers popping into being. Next imagine someone sneaks in and makes off with your nothing, quickly fencing it on the big nothing black market over on No Bay Drive. That’s fine for them, but now you’ve got a thousand cubic feet of goldfish crackers in the guest room, and there’s no finishing all that before your company arrives. Worse if they’ve already arrived, since you just know you left the goldfish cracker shovel in the back of the guest room, after last time.

Yet even having the problem so vividly explained leaves questions. For example, suppose you did want to steal a lot of nothing. How would you transport it? How would you load it? What’s the most nothing you could swipe at once, and where would you keep it so as not to attract unwanted attention? In short, is there nothing to be done about nothing, and if there is, what nothing is it?