Rick's List — Rot in Hell edition

The other day in a convenience store, I overheard a pleasant customer, her voice seething with anger, say to the clerk, "I hope you rot in hell!" 

At issue was a debit card that malfunctioned or didn't have enough capitol to pay for the gas the would-be customer wanted. Something like that. The clerk, by virture of the fact that he works in a convenience store located in a part of town that's not Nantucket, seemed to be fairly immune to the insult, and, indeed, he hadn't actually done anything wrong. As for me, waiting patiently with my lemon fried pie and a Double Gulp, I tried try to ease the tension. "Hey, can you put my stuff on her tab?" The clerk laughed and, honesty, the woman was already out the door.

But her presence lingers, mostly because her concept of hell is flawed. 

1. Hell is a place of eternal damnation.

2. If Angry Woman truly wished for the clerk to "rot" in hell, then what she's actually hoping for is a foreshortened bout of punishment.

a. "Rotting" is a finite process. At some point, decomposition is completed, at which time nothing is left. The rottee, if you will, who was theretofore in presumptive agony, is done with the torture.

b. So I think Angry Woman probably would prefer the clerk not rot in hell but just continue to be miserable there.

Let's now shift our speculations about the afterlife to consider assumptions about eternity from the perspective of paradise.

1. A lot of people feel the need to ascribe a specific activity in heaven that new arrivals will undertake, presumably in a state of bliss. These activities are generally tailored to fit the presumed desires of the deceased.

a. "Mama has been reunited with Poppa! They're dancing to Gene Krupa right now!"

b. "Leigh-Ellen is so happy! All of her dogs and cats were respectively wagging their tails or purring at the Rainbow Bridge!"

3. Of course, if you're a musician and die, survivors always console themselves with the belief that the deceased will be welcomed into heaven with membership in "a helluva band." They say, "Man, I'll bet (dead guy or girl) is jamming RIGHT NOW with Hendrix and Cobain and Petty!"

4. A potential problem: I was a mediocre musician at best. When I die and try to join the Band in the Great Beyond, Hendrix or Lennon or whichever Rock God is in charge will say, "Well, dude, there are 703 bass players better than you, so ..."

5. Or I'll go to hell, which Sartre described as a convenience store where an irate woman screams at you throughout eternity: "I hope you rot here and the process never stops!"

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