JERSEY CITY, N.J. - I went online and ordered my very own drone in late July.
I purchased the thing from Military Drone Leftovers from the Desert Wars Dot Com.
Man, it sure is a pretty thing, too. I guess it originally was a flat black, but being rehabbed and sold commercially, they sandblasted that gawd-awful, dreadful tint from its surface, then slapped a coat of primer on it, and finally, painted it a bright metallic orange. It has bright green racing stripes on its wings, too.
And in the spots that once had the U.S. flag and PROPERTY OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY splattered on its bleak surface, there are now decals of little butterflies, mushrooms, and bunny rabbits. It looks like something right out of the 1960s hippie culture, not the U.S. military industrial complex.
All that was required to buy the drone was my Social Security Number (I didn't give them my real SS# - get serious!), my telephone number, my current address, along with my date of birth (and do you think they got the real McCoys here? Not a chance!). Last but not least, Military Drone Leftovers wanted a money order for $3,450. There wasn't much I could do to get around this one, and being that I had this amount of money burning a hole through my savings account, I made a hasty withdrawal, put the cash into a Western Union M.O., and sent the thing to Military Drone Leftovers snail mail - and a mere few weeks ago, guess what arrived parcel post?
You guessed it, my very own drone.
I had it shipped to a blind, deaf, and dumb neighbor lady's house. I wrote on a "gift" tag line on Military Drone Leftovers' application & order form that "This drone is being purchased as a birthday present for my dear friend, Gertrude Szhnizzlewaffle." This woman wears mirrored shades, is obese and 40-ish, has some pattern baldness going on, stands at an impressive six-foot-four, and is always accompanied by her seeing-eye dog, Max. Max is cool, but Gertrude Szhnizzlewaffle is not - she is as mean-spirited and lowdown as a rattlesnake. She's a witch on wheels, yes she is.
Being that the neighbor lady is blind, deaf, and dumb, I saw no reason to let Gertrude Szhnizzlewaffle know of this arrival, either, and being the crafty creature that I am and always will be; I was the first to be snooping in her mailbox each and every afternoon up to the delivery of my beloved little war machine.
Finally, on an uneventful mid-August Wednesday, it came. My drone wasn't nearly as big as I thought it would be. My preconceived notion was that the thing would be about the size of a Farmall tractor - like a Farmall Regular or a D-430. At least, it would be the size of a snowmobile. Huh, fat chance! Do you think the thing was as large as a snow blower? Nope. It was only about the same size as the body of a lawn mower (minus the handset used to maneuver the grass-cutting implement around the yard, of course).
I was disappointed in its size. But now that I've had my drone in operation for more than just a few weeks now, I can see how already - in such a short time - that this self-propelled flying contraption has greatly improved the quality of my life!
I send it to the convenient store with a five dollar bill taped to its wing. I hooked up a little basket on my drone, you see. Benny, Judy or Beatrice (whichever clerk is working at Stop Right In at the time), throws a pack of generic cigs into the basket and my drone brings them back to me in no time flat.
Whenever I drive the interstate these days, I have my drone scouting out the asphalt three miles ahead for state patrolmen. The Jersey Turnpike is a mess of metal, glass, and kaleidoscope motion. And whenever my drone sees a county mountie or a state trooper on patrol in this vulture fest, I get a signal beamed back to my trusty old horse in the form of an electronic transmission. These heads-ups override anything else coming over my GPS monitor. And the drone's voice is so sexy and cool. It sort of sounds like Pamela Anderson did, way back when she played in all those Baywatch serials, only better. To be honest, I think my drone sounds just like one of heaven's angels. No weird-sounding, creepy, woman's voice that sounds like it's from beyond the grave, like most of the automated voices you hear on electronic gizmos. Nope, I have Ms. Sexy talking to me, giving me the lowdown on all-things-drone.
No more grocery store blues. I send my new toy to Amex Supermarket or Giant Buzzard Produce & Meat Mart with a grocery list and I have a guy (whom I tip a few bucks - again, with the small bills taped to the wing, of course, along with a tagged and signed blank check for the grocery total) who throws everything I order in the drone's basket (I use a larger basket for the grocery than for cigarette or beer runs to Stop Right In). I hate Jersey traffic - it's everywhere and it never ceases - even in the wee hours.
I've just ordered a pesticide sprayer to attach to my drone. It's been ordered from Drone Accessories Dot Com, another online supplier. The pesticide sprayer set me back another $500, but I'm going to be putting it to work next summer - spraying farmers' fields, for a fee, of course. - I figure by the time next summer comes to a close, I'll have made more than enough money to fully compensate me for buying the thing. My savings account should be back in full force by this time next year.
There are other options, too. Like transporting small pets from place to place. If someone needs their hamster or gerbil taken from their home to their vacation spot (since the airlines these days are very strict about letting small animals board commercial aircraft), I can diversify my little business by being a small animal transporter with my drone. It's fully operational and ready for long flights, even over small oceans, and has an overwhelming flight-mile capacity. The owner's manual boasts that it can travel more than 5,000 miles without refueling.
Another drone supply company - Hoppin' Animals Dot Com - has a whole assortment of cabins and accoutrements in which to accommodate the little, fuzzy, furry, or feathery set on long trips via drone travel.
Unfortunately, all the military weapons were disassembled from my drone before it was shipped to me. I originally had some plans to use it for deer hunting, but oh well, I guess it won't be helping me get my venison limits from here on in. Uncle Sam did not want these things used for vendetta-style attacks and such. The U.S. government wants to keep the Second Amendment separated from its drones-for-sale-to-the-masses programs.
I have finagled a way, however, to attach some spin-casting and fly reels and rods to my drone. It came equipped with a fully functional robotic arm (I guess there is a military rationale for this arm being installed - but for the life of me, I have no idea why it's there - maybe it was used, in the drone's other lifetime, to rattle off on the triggers of machine guns, who knows?), and the drone can cast out - with a half-ounce sinker attached to the test (er, ah, fishing line, in non-fisherman's vernacular) - a good 100 yards. - This is a walloping cast and I doubt that even Joe Montana or Michael Vick can cast a spin-casting rod's line this far out into the water. The drone can also fly very slowly over a fresh water lake, or even the ocean, for that matter, and can troll for hours at a time. It's come ripe and ready to be an expert fisherman.
A local fire department (not from Jersey City, but from a NYC neighborhood) came knocking on my door the other day and offered me five grand for my drone. The chief said his boys tried to buy one, but they couldn't find any drones being sold online anywhere.
"You'll be doing us a great civic duty if you would consider selling it to us. We need your drone to help us put out fires," the fire chief said.
It was bright and early in the morning, so I invited the chief in for a cup of coffee. Accompanying the short, stout, fireplug sort'a guy were two bruisers who had to weigh 280 pounds each and tipped the ruler at over 6-5.
I also thought of making a quick buck by pawning off my drone to him and his boys in red fire suits. They certainly appeared to be a very hungry, thirsty, and needy lot.
"So you want to give me five thousand for my drone, huh? How'd you find out I had one?" I asked.
"Gertrude Szhnizzlewaffle. You thought she was deaf, dumb and blind, didn't you? Well, she's not. And she filed a complaint with the FBI on you, for snooping around her mailbox. And we can't go any higher than six. That's our final offer," he said.
I thought to myself, Gertrude Szhnizzlewaffle has got the goods on me. That's why I went to such ridiculous lengths to make it seem like it was going to be a gift for her - who wants anyone knowing they own a military drone? I was born on a Tuesday, but it wasn't last Tuesday.
And furthermore, this fire chief would make a lousy pawn shop manager, jumping the gun so fast, going all the way up to $6,000. I was willing to go down to $4,500, due to my own civic-minded citizen's benevolence, you see.
"Is there any way I can get ten grand for the thing?" I asked.
"Okay. Ten grand it is, and that's our final offer. We really need a drone to help us douse fires. They don't carry nearly the water that a pumper or a tanker does, but man, how they can buzz around a fire scene. Those things zip around like little UFOs."
Then I thought of how convenient my life had become with my drone.
My quality of life had really hit the ceiling. And although before, I was the biggest slob - the most haggard of all lowlifes in the city - my stock had just gone through the ceiling. For the past few weeks, about the only responsibility left for me was sleeping and eating. And all kidding aside, I was reading the brochure that came with the drone that instructs its owner how to program the thing to use kitchen utensils and even cook food. I already discovered a neat way of programming it to make coffee.
"No, Chief, not a chance," I said. "I wouldn't sell my drone to you for a million buckaroos."
He gave me a pained look, the look only a seasoned firefighter could give.
"Didn't the government give you guys a tank, as part of their military surplus program? Aren't you getting an F-14 fighter jet and an Apache helicopter, too? What next, a battleship? A destroyer?"
"You must watch the local news. Yes. Yes, we're getting pretty well stocked. And no, we don't have anything in the hopper with the Navy. But we're getting an F-14 and an Apache. But what we really need and want is a military-style drone," the fire chief said.
"I tell you what - I sent my drone to the grocery store the other day and it was able to negotiate a great sale on coffee. I got two cans for the price of one. It's Maxwell House. Good to the last drop and all."
"Well, the answer about buying my drone is NO, NO and NO! But I want to donate a can of coffee to the local firefighters."
"Gee thanks," he said, and stuffed the can under his arm and scooted out the door. His two minions scowled at me. One even spit on my porch.