Inspired by this photo prompt at Magpie Tales, not to mention the way things seem to go around here...
A Hero for the Last Minute
Olympia--As the clock ticked toward Monday's deadline for the end of the costly special session of the legislature, lawmakers noticed a mysterious figure circulating through the Senate chamber.
"He proposed a compromise, called for a vote, and we were done on the stroke of midnight," recalled a sleep-deprived senator from Seattle. "Who was that masked man?"
Yes, there is a new hero in our midst. Just before press time, the Daily Planetesimal succeeded in obtaining an exclusive interview with Time-Crunch Man.
With the power to finish any task at the last minute, Time-Crunch Man has been a very busy superhero since his arrival.
"Term papers, contract bids, picking up children from daycare, driver license renewal--I've done a bit of everything," he said when asked about recent activities. "I can help with checking in at the airport, scholarship applications, slow construction work, and even editors' deadlines," he added as the reporter checked his watch.
Like any hero, Time-Crunch Man has his limitations. "My power only activates when 93% of the allotted time has elapsed," he warned. Moreover, he can be in only one place at a time. How did he manage tax season?
"It was a doozy," Time-Crunch Man confessed. "Luckily, people receive their withholding statements at different times, so the last 7% of time begins slightly differently for everyone."
If Time-Crunch Man is not available for your crisis, he will dispatch his trusty sidekick, Excuse Boy, to persuade your foreman, wife, board of directors, or probation officer that your efforts will be worth the wait.
Hailing from the tiny nation of Procrasty, Time-Crunch Man grew up in an idyllic agricultural community. His uncle described the incipient hero for the Daily Planetesimal:
"We could always count on him to get the crops in just before a storm, but he wasn't good for much the rest of the season. Now that we have better equipment and modern forecasting methods, we have less need for his, er, gifts. I persuaded him that there would be more scope for his talents in the busy United States of America."
And dozens of area citizens agree.
"I can't believe he got us through that traffic jam," gasped an EMT. "But with his help, the patient reached the ER before it was too late."
"He got me to the church on time," testified a new husband, "And delivered our passports just in time for a whirlwind honeymoon!"
"I was so emotionally connected with Oprah's guests today that I forgot to bake cupcakes for the bake sale tonight. Time-Crunch Man showed up in the cutest apron and whipped up a batch just before the PTA president called," said a grateful suburban housewife.
Reactions to Time-Crunch Man's arrival has not been unmixed. Unsung heroine Prepara fears he may undermine her own work in the area.
"I've been here for years, trying to teach people to plan, to set and follow a reasonable schedule, to have a little foresight, for crying out loud," she said, repairing a tiny tear in her schoolmarmish uniform with a single stitch. "These last-minute solutions are flashy, but not dependable."
(Prepara has provided the Daily Planetesimal with a well-written 3-page supplement on her own heroic work. See the Monday edition.)
"We'll never call him," scoffed an engineer at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. "He's not nuke qualified, and I bet he doesn't have a security clearance. Besides, overtime work is an important part of our culture in the yard."
But the criticism does not faze our hero. While we cannot reveal the name of his mild-mannered alter ego, we can report that Time-Crunch Man spends his off-duty hours snoozing on the couch, relaxing on a lawn chair, or playing solitaire, waiting for his next opportunity to perform under pressure.
"I'm here to serve when it is almost too late," Time-Crunch Man said as he rushed off to pick up some prescription medication, a new water heater, and a gift for a nearly-forgotten anniversary. "When in haste, I save face!"