The Census report, like most such surveys, had cost an awful lot of money and didn’t tell anybody anything they didn’t already know – except that every single person in the Galaxy had 2.4 legs and owned a hyena.

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More from So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish

He wondered where Ford Prefect was. By an extraordinary coincidence, the following day there were two reports in the paper, one concerning the most astonishing incidents with a flying saucer, and the other about a series of unseemly riots in pubs. Ford Prefect turned up the day after that looking hung over and complaining that Arthur never answered the phone.

“How reliable is he?” asked Fenchurch in a sinking voice.
“How reliable?” said Arthur. He gave a hollow laugh. “How shallow is the ocean?” he said. “How cold is the sun?”

“But you don’t understand,” said Ford, his expression slowly ripening from a little taken abackness into rank incredulity. “This is the American Express Card. It is the finest way of settling bills known to man. Haven’t you read their junk mail?”

Indeed there were no casual observers in the Old Pink Dog Bar on the lower South Side of Han Dold City because it wasn’t the sort of place you could afford to do things casually in if you wanted to stay alive. Any observers in the place would have been mean hawklike observers, heavily armed, with painful throbbings in their heads which caused them to do crazy things when they observed things they didn’t like.

“I was being perfectly serious,” said Arthur. “It’s just the Universe I’m never quite sure about.”