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Departure Checklist:

Check everything to make sure it's off: the lights, the stove, the iron.

Make sure nothing is in contact with a burning bulb.

Remember the time you burned a hole in your pants when a stack of clothes fell off a shelf and onto a light bulb.

Make sure the windows are shut and locked. Remember the time burglars entered through a window.

Unplug the air conditioner, the word processor, the iron. Reflect on how bourgeois you have become, now that you have these things.

Turn off the water faucets; twist them tight. A drip will leave a blue copper-oxide mark in the shape of a dime.

Make sure the answering machine is in "Answer" mode and the incoming message tape is not at its end. Someone might call to offer work.

Unplug the six-volt adapter that powers your micro-cassette player so the adapter doesn't heat up and start a fire.

Look at the end of the extension cord and make sure the outlets are empty.

Look up at the hanging plant. If its leaves are drooping, add water.

Don't let the water run off a leaf or stem and down your arm.

Outside the door, turn the key in each lock a few times. Think what will happen if you get robbed.

Unlock the door, come back in, look at the extension cord, make sure the stove knobs are in their vertical, off position, and push the refrigerator door shut.

Pry at the window frames with your fingertips.

Tighten the sink and tub faucets.

Leave again, turn the keys in the locks five or six more times, and wonder what will happen if someone comes in while you are gone.

Will that person find anything embarrassing?

What will happen if you are hit by a car and never return?

Who are your beneficiaries?

What happens if you end up a human vegetable?

Where is your living will?

- Thaddeus Rutkowski

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