My Magnificent System by Christopher Morley

Story type: Essay

In these days when the streets are so perilous, every man who goes about the city ought to be sure that his pockets are in good order, so that when he is run down by a roaring motor-truck the police will have no trouble in identifying him and communicating with his creditors.

I have always been very proud of my pocket system. As others may wish to install it, I will describe it briefly. If I am found prostrate and lifeless on the paving, I can quickly be identified by the following arrangement of my private affairs:

In my right-hand trouser leg is a large hole, partially surrounded by pocket.

In my left-hand trouser pocket is a complicated bunch of keys. I am not quite sure what they all belong to, as I rarely lock anything. They are very useful, however, as when I walk rapidly they evolve a shrill jingling which often conveys the impression of minted coinage. One of them, I think, unlocks the coffer where I secretly preserve the pair of spats I bought when I became engaged.

My right-hand hip pocket is used, in summer, for the handkerchief reserves (hayfever sufferers, please notice); and, in winter, for stamps. It is tapestried with a sheet of three-cent engravings that got in there by mistake last July, and adhered.

My left-hand hip pocket holds my memorandum book, which contains only one entry: Remember not to forget anything.

The left-hand upper waistcoat pocket holds a pencil, a commutation ticket and a pipe cleaner.

The left-hand lower waistcoat pocket contains what the ignorant will esteem scraps of paper. This, however, is the hub and nerve center of my mnemonic system. When I want to remember anything I write it down on a small slip of paper and stick it in that pocket. Before going to bed I clean out the pocket and see how many things I have forgotten during the day. This promotes tranquil rest.

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The right-hand upper waistcoat pocket is used for wall-paper samples. Here I keep clippings of all the wallpapers at home, so that when buying shirts, ties, socks or books I can be sure to get something that will harmonize. My taste in these matters has sometimes been aspersed, so I am playing safe.

The right-hand lower waistcoat pocket is used for small change. This is a one-way pocket; exit only.

The inner pocket of my coat is used for railroad timetables, most of which have since been changed. Also a selected assortment of unanswered letters and slips of paper saying, “Call Mr. So-and-so before noon.” The first thing to be done by my heirs after collecting the remains must be to communicate with the writers of those letters, to assure them that I was struck down in the fullness of my powers while on the way to the post office to mail an answer.

My right-hand coat pocket is for pipes.

Left-hand coat pocket for tobacco and matches.

The little tin cup strapped in my left armpit is for Swedish matches that failed to ignite. It is an invention of my own.

I once intended to allocate a pocket especially for greenbacks, but found it unnecessary.

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