OUMIs (Object, Utensil, Machine or Installation)

The Government wishes to inform members of the public that the faults and defects in certain objects, utensils, machines, and installations (OUMIs, in abbreviated form) that have become increasingly common in recent months, are being scrupulously examined by a panel of experts which now includes a parapsychologist. Members of the public should beware of anyone spreading rumors or trying to provoke panic and hysteria. Citizens should remain calm, even when the aforesaid OUMIs start disappearing: objects, utensils, machines, or installations. Everyone should be on their guard. Every OUMI (object, utensil, machine or installation) should be carefully examined in the future. The Government wishes to stress the importance of sighting any OUMI (object, utensil, machine or installation), the moment it starts to disappear. Anyone who can give detailed information or prevent the disappearance of OUMIs will be duly rewarded and promoted to category C if classified in a lower category. The Government is counting on public support and trust.

From José Saramago’s “Things,” as appearing in The Lives of Things. Translated from the Portuguese by Giovanni Pontiero and brought to my attention by @patrickdavison.