by Jim Harris
We interrupt “Wheel of Fortune” to bring you the following message from Mayor Michael Nutter:
“Good Evening. Tonight, I am announcing that the City of Philadelphia will be closed for business for the next, oh, what shall we say, how about four days? You may recall that I shut down all municipal offices for two days last week when Hurricane Sandy was passing through. Thankfully, we didn’t get hit as hard as some other areas like the Jersey shore, but our city workers greatly enjoyed the paid time off, and truth be told, no one really missed them. Therefore, we are now instituting a new policy of mandatory governmental shutdowns at least once a month.
“Whenever this happens, just to make things legal, I will declare an official ‘State of Panic’ for some reason or other. This will require you to run in all directions, buy large quantities of perishable foods and eat them all immediately. You will also need to stock up on batteries, rock salt, bottled water, peanut butter, uh, bottled beer… have I forgotten anything? I’m running out of things to say. Anyway, this will all be good for the local economy.
“You may have noticed the colorful cast of characters standing behind me. Since all of our regular department heads have already begun their vacations, we called in the popular 1970s disco group, The Village People, to stand in and visually represent the various types of municipal employees — dandies, hipsters, cowboys and Indian Chiefs — who will be unavailable during the shutdown.
“For my part, I’m off to Vegas for a few days to do a guest DJ spot at the Golden Nugget. It actually pays better than my mayor gig. But fear not, while I’m there, I will closely monitor events in Philadelphia and make any important decisions that are required regarding your governance.
“Now, some of you may be asking, ‘How will I know when City Hall is open for business again?’ That is a very good question. The only way you will know for sure is that the ‘Out To Lunch’ signs will be removed from the office doors. You’ll have to look closely, though, because nothing else will change.
“Also, over the course of the closure, you will be receiving email blasts and robo-calls from the city explaining things like how to properly prepare your leaves for pickup (30 gallon, 2-ply industrial-strength biodegradable pleated brown paper bags with a Happy Face on the front) or what to do if your water meter should suddenly burst into flame. (Run like hell.) So you see, most alleged functions of municipal government do not even require the presence of live human beings.
“Now, you may have seen Ed Rendell on talk shows ranting about how America has become a nation of wusses. He’s nuts. He would have us working seven days a week if he could. Don’t worry; we now have him sedated and chained to a gargoyle in a City Hall Tower, where he won’t be causing any more trouble. You can visit him there if you like, for a small fee, but don’t stare directly into his eyes because he can be very persuasive.
“I see that The Village People are anxious to get back to the YMCA, so I’ll wrap this up for now, but rest assured, during this hiatus, even though I won’t be legally required to do anything, I will still be working around the clock. I always work around the clock because the clock is right next to the snack machine. [Cymbal crash.] But seriously, folks, I will be returning frequently with televised reports like this one, always with a celebrity guest or two, like Beyoncé or Justin Bieber, so stay tuned.
“We will now return you to ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ where Phinneas Phignewton, from Columbus, Ohio, has just bought a vowel. For those of you playing along at home, good luck!”