QOO no.92    September 9, 2010
      Dear BP
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Dear BP,

I am writing to claim my fair share of the 20 billion dollar fund for victims of your recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

It may surprise you to see a compensation claim postmarked Vermont. Yes, I have lived in Vermont all my life, but that's not the whole story. You see, it has been my lifelong dream to live along the Gulf Coast, in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama or maybe the Florida panhandle, and run my own shrimp fishing fleet. Or crabbing. The fact that I have never even been in a canoe and am allergic to seafood are challenges that I am willing, in fact eager, to confront, and that I think only prove the depth of my commitment to this goal.

To put it another way, I am a shrimp/crab fisherman trapped in an assistant office manager's body. All day long on the job, it may look like I'm talking on the phone and pulling records from the file room, but in my mind I'm taking readings with the sextant (do they still use those?) and hauling in nets teeming with bright pink, lively, succulent, petroleum-free Gulf shrimp. Or crabs.

Until recently the only thing that had been stopping me from acting on this desire was a lack of capital to pay for the move, let alone invest in starting up a business. Or buying a boat. Or putting a deposit on an apartment. But here's the thing: one day this spring I got up in the morning, consulted my horoscope, and I just KNEW, I had this gut feeling, that THIS was the day I was finally going to start asking around to see if anyone I knew had any idea how I could maybe go about starting to find financial backing for this life-changing venture. And you know what day that was? That's right -- April 20th, the day your offshore platform, the Deepwater Horizon, blew up. Blowing my own personal horizons into deep water along with it, if you get my metaphor.

But enough about me. Let's talk about you, and how much you're going to have to pay me for robbing me of the will to go on.

Let's see, first, to move down there somewhere I would have needed a car. Let's say the new Ford Explorer, $38,000 list. Movers, about $5,000. Then a little warchest for miscellaneous expenses on the road. A couple thousand probably would have done it. Once I got there, if I had ever been able to go, I would have needed about $10,000 to get my feet on the ground, find a place to live, get the cable hooked up, change my driver's license, choose a favorite topless club, etc.

Now we get to the really heartbreaking part: I figure starting the shrimp (or crab) fleet would have cost me about $140,000 apiece for, say, four -- no, make it six -- boats. That's $840,000. Plus I would need to find crews for all of them. Recruiting the right people is the core of any business. I know that. The personnel search alone could cost another $20,000. We're almost up to seven figures already, and I'm not even counting registration fees, insurance, fuel, rubber boots, etc., etc. You don't need me to tell you how expensive it is to run a corporation. Oh, and lifejackets. I think we'd better just round off to an even million dollars here.

And then, if I had got my fleet together, let's say by June 1st, I wouldn't have been able to get out there on the waves and achieve the fulfillment I've been waiting for for so long. No -- I would have been confined to port thanks to your oil spill. So I figure you also owe me two months of the gross income I would have made -- let's say $60,000. I think I'm being generous here.

But that doesn't quite cover it, BP. We're not just talking about boats and registrations and lost revenue. We're talking about shattered dreams, dashed hopes, an entire life spent yearning for a day that thanks to you will never come. It's impossible to put a price on that. I'm thinking $18.9 billion.

Really, even that's just a small consolation when you have nothing left to live for.
I'd prefer a cashier's check.


Copyright 2010 by David Jaggard. 
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I warned you.  

After payouts made in response to the letter cited above, the BP compensation fund for victims of the
Gulf of Mexico oil spill now has
dollars left in it, all of which will go to the same claimant
if still unallotted by November 1, 2010.

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About the translation / traduction of Air France Madame Magazine and Nancy Li