Buyer's Remorse

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m really starting to regret buying a time machine. Ever since I molecuported the ZY-71 off the lot, my life has been one unending hassle.

The trouble began at the dealership. Phil, the salesman, was quite pushy, and he made a very low-ball offer for my Dodge Stratus trade-in. He also neglected to mention that the ZY-71 gets terrible yearage: three hours after buying the thing I was already at the Pump-N-Go. Imagine my shock when the attendant said it would cost two million dollars to fill the tank with plutonium. “No thanks,” I sighed. “Just use radon.”

That weekend I had some free time, so I decided to take my ZY-71 to the Paleozoic Era and have a look around. Frankly, it was a pretty disappointing era. I walked a long while and didn’t see any dinosaurs. Now I’m not so sure they ever even existed.

Anyway, before returning home I double-checked that no stegosaurus or whatever had followed me into the time machine, which would’ve been unlikely because, again, I hadn’t seen one so-called “dinosaur” all day. But some Paleozoic seeds must’ve attached to my clothes. Because the next morning there was a man-eating plant in my front lawn, by the mailbox, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t there the day before. A few local dogs have gone missing so the neighborhood association is pitching a fit. I still can’t get my mail.

Another time I was reading The Great Gatsby and thought it’d be fun to check out the Jazz Age. So I hopped in my ZY-71 and set the dial. But when I opened the hatch and climbed out, I was immediately accosted by an angry man in goggles. He was pointing frantically at his Studebaker, which, unfortunately, was underneath my time machine. “Just great,” I thought. I wrote my phone number on a scrap of paper and gave it to Mr. Goggles. He yelled “Scram!” and then slapped me in the face with a leather glove.

They say when you become famous everyone you ever knew will “come out of the woodwork.” Well, ditto when you buy a time machine. A few days ago I got this e-mail from Cheryl, my second-grade girlfriend:

Hey, Rob, it’s Cheryl, from fourth grade! Just wondering how you’re doing. Are you still way into bugs? Oh, I almost forgot: I heard you bought a time machine??? Really neat. Anyway it would be great to catch up, so let me know if you ever want grab a drink or maybe use the time machine!

I’ve also been getting a lot of calls from random people asking if I could “do mankind a solid” and assassinate historical ogres, like Joseph Stalin and Skeletor, before they have a chance to hatch their evil schemes. Nice idea, but not really my thing. Before hanging up, though, I’d rhetorically ask these callers why they didn’t just use their own time machines. But then somebody said, “Because you have the only one,” which I did not know and which is honestly a lot of pressure I don’t need right now.

I guess I have had a few good experiences with the ZY-71. I enjoyed meeting Marie Antoinette. She was very kind and conscientious, despite what you read. I also loved wowing the medieval hordes with mundane technology, but I had to quit that after inadvertently launching the Zipper Crusades, which were just awful.

Yeah, buying a time machine was a definite mistake. But no more complaining. I have to get back to work, building these pyramids. Khufu’s a real slave driver if you know what I mean. Which reminds me: you don’t know any traders around here selling radon, do you? I’m very interested.