Reader’s Digest is best known as the magazine that old people get roped into subscribing to by their grandchildren to support their school or something. It usually features articles about people you don’t care about (The Man Who Mixed Kool-Aid and Coke!) and jokes that are not particularly funny often stolen off of Twitter or Reddit.
But there was one day where the magazine saved my life. Well, it saved me from extreme boredom and instead gave me mild boredom.
It was back in a time known as the late 1990s. Bill Clinton was denying allegations of having sexual affairs, Home Improvement was the number one show, people knew who the Sneaker Pimps were and I was riding the bus to the mall.
At least I was trying to ride the bus to the mall. What was usually an hour long ride became much longer after the bus broke down half way there. Instead of sending an emergency bus to pick us up, they simply made us wait for the next bus that wasn’t scheduled to arrive for an hour.
How did one kill time in the days before smart phones and Kindles? You can stare out the window and watch the motorists laugh at the idiots without drivers licenses stuck on the bus. You can try to figure out the smell coming off the person sitting in front of you (Spoiler: It’s a combination of body fluids and White Castle).
Lucky for me, I didn’t have to settle for one of those two… or even resorting to conversation with people. Some previous bus rider had left a copy of Reader’s Digest in the seat next to me. Most likely it was left by a grandmother who just realized she was better off not helping a school raise money for new urinals than having to read that drivel.
I picked up the Reader’s Digest off the bus seat, being fortunate that I didn’t immediately catch hand herpes by touching it, and thumbed through it. There were the not so thrilling stories of survival, the unfunny jokes, the countless ads for old people drugs.
Up until that moment the everything I knew about Reader’s Digest came from The Simpson’s episode, Mr. Lisa Goes To Washington. Other than that, I assumed Readers Digest was just a collection of photos featuring people digesting food while eating.
But on this day I discovered Reader’s Digest’s true purpose: To keep you mildly entertained when there’s absolutely nothing else to do.