Saturday, November 20, 2004
Sue Scott: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but on the twelfth floor of the Acme Building, one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions—Guy Noir, Private Eye—
Garrison Keillor: It was a cold, grey November afternoon in St. Paul and I was reading an article in the paper about depression and at the end there was a quiz and I wound up with almost a perfect score. I called up my ex-girlfriend Sugar and she told me what she'd been telling me for ten years.
SS (SUGAR, ON PHONE): What you need is more exercise, Guy. You sit up there in your dark office and you brood about everything. Brooding isn't going to help matters.
GK: I'm a Democrat, Sugar. Brooding is second nature to me.
SS (SUGAR, ON PHONE): Meet me at the YMCA, Guy.
GK: Why, Sugar?
SS (SUGAR, ON PHONE): That's what I said. The Y. (STING & BRIDGE)
GK: So I went to the Y and she put me on a treadmill. (WHIRRING CLICKING SOUND AND RUNNING FOOTSTEPS)
SS: You're doing great, Guy. Keep going.
GK (PANTING): Is this supposed to be fun? I'm just asking.
SS: You can watch TV while you do it. Or read the paper.
GK: My eyeballs are perspiring.
SS: Your eyeballs can't perspire, Guy.
GK (PANTING): Maybe they can't but mine are. (BRIDGE)
GK: I went and sat in the steam room (STEAM BURSTS) and there was one of those old tanned rich guys with the short hair.
Tim Russell (RICH GUY): Market's doing pretty darn good this week.
GK: I hear that.
TR (RICH GUY): You in futures, by any chance?
GK: I used to be in futures. Now I'm in deciduous.
TR (RICH GUY): Oh. Interesting. How is deciduous these days?
TR (RICH GUY): Well, it'll come back.
GK: Yeah. I hope so. (BRIDGE) I stopped at the Appliance Barn on my way back to the office to pick up an exercycle and instead I decided to get a coffeemaker. I'm sort of an impulse buyer. (INDOOR SHOPPING AMBIENCE) The Appliance Barn covered about forty acres of stuff— Say?
Tom Keith (TEEN): Yeah?
GK: You a salesman?
TK (TEEN): I'm a sales associate.
GK: I see. Where are your coffeemakers?
TK (TEEN): Over that way, I think. Rex? (DOG PANTING, JINGLE) Where are the coffeemakers? (WOOF) Yeah, they's over that way. (WOOF) Just follow Rex— (WOOFING FADES) (BRIDGE)
GK: I followed the sales dog to a far corner of the store and there was a display of about five hundred coffeemakers, some of them with keypads — I wanted to avoid that — I don't want to have to remember a PIN number to be able to make coffee in the morning — Rex? (WOOF) Is there one coffeemaker that you recommend? (DOG THINKING, MUTTERING, THEN A SERIES OF WOOFS) This one here, huh? Looks like an espresso machine. (WOOF) But it really works, huh? (WOOF) I don't want to buy some dog of a coffeemakers— (DOG GROWL) Sorry— wrong metaphor. (BRIDGE) I bought the thing, not noticing that some assembly was required. I took it back to the office and after I assembled it I had three screws left over, and a brace and a green wire. And when I turned the machine on, I got a warning message. (TK ELECTRONIC VOICE: Step away from the coffeemaker. Step away from the coffeemaker.) So I called the customer service number on the package..., (PUSHBUTTON DIALING. PAUSE. RING).
SS (ELECTRONIC VOICE:) Thank you for calling the Appliance Barn Customer service line. Some calls may be monitored for quality control purposes or by homeland security personnel. If you are experiencing difficulty with an Appliance Barn product, despite the easy-to-follow instruction manual written at a third-grade reading level, press or say 1. (BEEP) If the difficulty you are experiencing is of a life-threatening nature, hang up and dial 9-1-1. If you wish to speak to a service representative, press or say 1. (BEEP) Please wait. Do not touch the product until you are told what to do. Your touching it will— (CLICK)
TR (ON PHONE, ARABIC): My name is Rashid, how can I help?
GK: Well, it's about my new coffeemaker. An espresso machine.
TR (ON PHONE): What is the serial number?
GK: Where would I find that?
TR: On the bottom of the residual reservoir refill arm.
GK: Do you mind if I ask where you are? I'm curious.
TR: Where am I? I am in Uzbekhistan. In a little village. I live in a mud hut with fourteen relatives and this computer.
GK: I've tried putting this together but I have some screws and a green wire and a plastic brace or something—
TR: I'm sorry but the camel has eaten my instruction book.
GK: The camel ate it.
TR: Yes, but try this— turn the coffeemaker off. Leave the room.
GK: Leave the room.
TR: Come back in the room.
GK: Come back in.
TR: Turn the coffeemaker back on.
GK: Listen— I know you're doing your best, and I appreciate it, but — could you switch me over to someone who might be able to help me?
TR: Just one moment, sir— (CLICK, PAUSE)
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): Hello. I'm Debra — I am your customer service specialist. I want to work with you to make this coffeemaker a successful coffeemaker and I really feel that together we can do that.
GK: I do, too.
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): Tell me what's happening.
GK: I have a couple screws left over and some wire—
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): No — I want to know what's happening with you, Mr. Noir.
GK: With me?
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): Yes, with you.
GK: Nothing is happening, that's my problem.
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): Then I think we should start there, Mr. Noir.
GK: But this is going to take a long time, Debra—
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): I don't care.
GK: You have better things to do than listen to some customer talk about the black hole in the middle of his life.
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): You're not just "some customer," Mr. Noir. You're you. And I'm here. For as long as you need me.
GK: But you have a life of your own, Debra— a husband, and family—
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): I don't, Mr. Noir.
GK: You're not married?
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): I thought about it and I decided that marriage would get in the way of my work with customers.
GK: So this is more than a job to you—
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): This is my mission, Mr. Noir. To be here — for you.
GK: I don't know what to say—
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): You don't have to say anything, Mr. Noir.
GK: Where are you right now?
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): I'm in Iowa.
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): Do you know Iowa?
GK: Do I know Iowa!!! (HE SINGS)
Oh, there's nothing halfway
About the Iowa way to treat you,
When we treat you
Which we may not do at all.
(SHE JOINS HIM IN DUET)
But what the heck, you're welcome,
Glad to have you with us.
Even though we may not ever mention it again.
You really ought to give Iowa
Dubuque, Des Moines, Davenport, Marshalltown,
Mason City, Keokuk, Ames, Clear Lake -
Ought to give Iowa a try!
— Hey, you're a singer.
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): You're not so bad yourself, Mr. Noir.
GK: Listen. If I may say a word — you really have to make yourself happy, Debra, before you can make your Appliance Barn customers happy.
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): (WEEPY) That is so beautiful.
GK: It's true!
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): (WEEPY) Your espresso machine is on the fritz and what do you do? You offer a helping hand to me. You must be a Democrat, Mr. Noir.
GK: I am, Debra.
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): Me too. I was so depressed afterward.
GK: Yeah. Same here. I was curled up in a fetal position and rocking back and forth making high-pitched keening sounds, but I'm better now.
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): Let me speak to you honestly now, as one Democrat to another, Mr. Noir.
GK: Call me Guy. Please.
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): Guy, the espresso machine is a piece of crap. Take it back to the store for a refund.
GK: I don't care about the refund. I care about you, Debra.
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): I think I'm going to cry.
GK: Let me give you my phone number—
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): I already have your phone number. You live in St. Paul—
GK: I do, yes.
SS (CARING, ON PHONE): St. Paul — I've dreamed of seeing it for years. The city on the river. The lights, the music, the cafes, the nightlife.
GK: When you're tired of St. Paul, you're tired of life, that's what we say. (CLICK) Hello? Hello? Debra?
SS (HARD, OLDER): This is Virginia, your customer service supervisor. I've been monitoring this call and now I am taking over, Mr. Noyer.
GK: Where's Debra?
SS (HARD, OLDER): Debra has been taken into custody for retraining, Mr. Noyer. Give me the serial number of your coffeemaker, Mr. Noyer.
GK: My name is pronounced Noir. It's Noir.
SS (HARD, OLDER): Who cares? Give me your serial number.
GK: Where is it?
SS (HARD, OLDER): Listen, dummy — next time you call, make sure you have the serial number and your sales receipt and your credit card in front of you? You hear me, clown? I don't have all day. (CLICK)
GK: She hung up on me and the moment she did, there was a knock on the door. (KNOCKS ON DOOR) Yeah, come in. (DOOR OPENS, FOOTSTEPS)
TR: Homeland Security, Noir. Put your hands behind your head.
GK: Homeland Security??? What are you doing here?
TR: You live in a blue state and you bought an espresso machine. Pretty obvious, isn't it?
GK: So it's against the law to drink espresso now?
TR: Not necessarily, but it's clear from these leftover parts that you had no intention of building an espresso machine, so that leaves the question: what were you going to do with these screws and this green wire? Sit down, Mr. Noir. I've got some questions to ask.
GK: This is going to take awhile, isn't it.
TR: Yes, it is.
GK: I have a dinner engagement for Thursday.
TR: I'd cancel it if I were you. (THEME)
SS: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets. But high above the empty streets, on the 12th floor of the Acme Building, one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions.........Guy Noir, Private Eye. (THEME)