Words by Ryan Croker Art by Kell Padget
Ask Debbie: Everyone is Using my Time Machine Wrong!
I enjoy inventing when I’m not working as a loan officer for a local RV dealership. My most recent invention is a modest time machine I made so that I can attend games from the 1977 World Series. Sometimes I check out the south stands during game 3 or just hang out and eat some popcorn just inside the entrance during game 2. I cheer for both sides, making sure that I don’t upset the delicate balance of the cosmos by inspiring one team more than the other. It’s a hobby I find both fulfilling and relaxing.
Here’s my problem. My friends all found out about my time machine and keep using it to alter history in stupid ways. Just last week my friend Doug (without asking) travelled back to 1803 so he could offer Thomas Jefferson a mug of soup that he had spit in. Jefferson ended up getting the flu and forgot to finalize the Louisiana Purchase. A month ago, my (now ex) girlfriend Janine went all the way back to her 8th grade slumber party so she could tell her younger self to buy a saltwater aquarium instead of a freshwater aquarium for her future dental office waiting room.
Needless to say, when I found out, I broke up with her and then travelled back in time to make sure her parents raised her in Argentina instead of Tulsa, so I wouldn’t have to deal with her anymore.
Even though she’s out of my life, I live in constant worry any new friends or romantic partners might do the same thing. I’ve tried leaving polite notes on the time machine telling them not to use it, but nobody listens. I even put a bike chain on it, but someone just cut it. I feel like I am out of options. Any advice?
—Bothered in Baltimore
It’s important to set boundaries in any relationship. From your letter, I get the impression that you are using passive-aggressive techniques to dissuade people from using your things. You might find that people respond better to a direct conversation. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and the integrity of the space-time continuum. The next time you have somebody over, tell them firmly and confidently that you don’t want them to use your time machine. If they don’t listen, you’ll know that it’s not a relationship worth having.