Me and Mortimer—Chapter Eleven: “Headaches and Cure”

“Oh … please! Do me a favor and don’t make so much noise making your morning coffee?”

That was Mortimer moaning, sitting in his chair and cradlin’ his head in his arms and resting it on his work bench. He came to work this morning suffering from a headache. I was gonna tease him by sayin’, ‘I thought vegetarians don’t get headaches’, but I sort of felt sorry for the guy. I know how headaches can hurt. I’ve often get them a few Sunday mornings after comin’ home late from Saturday night’s Happy Hour at the Tartans and Cream pub.

“Have you taken any painkillers for it?” I asked, instead. “I think there’s some Tylenol left in our First Aid Kit—unless I already used them all.”

“No—Maureen made me a lemon and ginger tea before I left for work. I think I’ve just got an upset stomach and should be feeling better in a while. Just—uh—just don’t make any noise right now, o.k.?” Mort continued speaking softly so as not to make his headache worse. He, being so still, reminded me of a rabbit that’s frozen scared-stiff trying to hide itself from a fox that’s sniffing a rabbit-breakfast nearby … but, I shouldn’t think that. Poor guy’s sufferin’ enough!

“Why’d you come to work with a headache in the first place?” I asked. “You haven’t taken a sick leave this year yet, so you sure got lots of ‘em coming.”

It sure amazes me to try and understand why people like Mortimer don’t take their full entitlement of sick leave, irrigardless of whether they’s sick or not! First thing I did when I started work here was find out how much sick leave I had coming, and I’ve already taken my full entitlement. Ya gotta grab your rights while the grabbin’s good, I always sez!

Mort stirred just a little bit. “I don’t feel like talking right now. Why don’t you just … just go and have your coffee and read your paper?”

Well! If you don’t wanna talk to me, see if I care! So I turns away from Mort and I make my coffee and move over to my desk to read the morning paper, but I can’t help thinkin’ about Mort. “I hear coffee’s supposed to be good for headaches,” I tell him. “That’s what I always drink on Sunday morning after a night at the Tartans and Cream.”

“I don’t drink coffee. I don’t like it!” Mortimer groans.

“What gave you your headache anyway?” I asks.

Mort never even answered. He just continued sittin’ there, restin’ his head in his arms on the bench. I guess he really meant it when he said he didn’t want to talk any more.

Sheesh!

I opens my morning paper and reads on the front page that there was another fight at the Tartans and Cream last Saturday, and I missed the event! The reason I missed it is ‘cause my wife wanted me to take her and the kids to the city to do some shopping for shoes. I swear, them kids can wear out shoes faster than a cop can write out a speeding ticket while you’re on your way to the mall!

Anyway, why I sez I wished I hadn’t of missed the event at the Tartans and Cream is that Baby Lou—his real name is Andy Louise, but he got that name, Baby Lou, ‘cause he has sort of, a babyface, but has a couple knife scars across his cheek from previous fights and that makes him look mean.

Anyway, he was again the main attraction at the fight on Saturday. Baby Lou don’t take no guff from nobody, so most of the guys at the Tartans and Cream stays clear of him, but when Eddie Baxter accidently spilt Baby Lou’s beer by bumping it with his elbow, Baby Lou exploded! He was about ready to send Eddie to the hospital, he got so mad, ‘xcept a couple other guys at the bar jumped on Baby Lou and held him down so Eddie could escape from the bar. That’s when the cops was called and, of course, the local newspaper took pictures of everything.

Don’t know why the newspaper has to stick its nose into our fun time at the Tartans and Cream every time there’s a fight there. All that publicity again aroused that crazy women’s league that’s been demonstrating to close down our source of superior manly entertainment, just like they succeeded in closing down the Crown and Star earlier this year.

I almost feels like writing to the editor of the paper and telling him that I disagrees with that group of silly women, and that they should just mind their own business! Them women’s gotta be told to let us men have our fun! If you thinks we’s settin’ a bad example to the youth of our town, then keep your kids away from us! We has rights to, you know!

Trouble is, I don’t have a pen or paper on me right now, otherwise, I’m so mad, I think I would write to the editor —

Oh, oh! I see Mortimer’s stirring. “Have a good nap?” I inquires.

Mortimer stretches and yawns, rubs his eyes and turns to me. “Yes,” he sez. “I feel much better now. Maureen’s lemon and ginger tea really helped settle my stomach,” he gets up and heads for the door. “I think I’ll step outside for a minute and take some deep breaths. That should clear the remaining cobwebs from my head.”

About ten minutes later Mort returns, looking like someone’s just injected him with a energy hormone. I just don’t understand that guy. How’s he do it?

Sheesh! I wish I could get rid of my Sunday mornin’ headaches that fast! It usually takes three cups of coffee and several aspirin, and my head’s still fuzzy for the rest of the morning … but I will say—and I’m not afraid to tell Mort, that there ain’t no way I’ll ever drink that lemon and ginger stuff! That ain’t no man’s drink, and I’m not about to pollute my body with that feminine vegetarian stuff!

Mort begins checking around his area of the shed as if he’s lookin’ for something. “Lost something?” I inquires.

“Yeah … ” he’s still looking, confused, and searching in more detail. “Last week, after I filled the lawn mower with gas, I brought the can with the remaining gas back and set it on my bench, right there.” He points to a spot in the corner, close to the wall. “Have you seen it?”

“Seen what?”

“The gas can! I had some gas left over after filling the lawn mower, so I set the can over there.” He again points to that spot in the corner.

“Was it a red can and had the words, ‘GAS,’ painted on it?”

“Yes! Have you seen it?” Mort was startin’ to get a bit irritated. I don’t know why. I was politely answering his questions.

“Yeah,” I told him. “My car ran out of gas last Friday, so I took it and put the gas into my car—”

You stole company gas?” Mort looks at me like I’m some kinda freak or something.

“I didn’t steal it. I borrowed the gas. My wife gets paid tomorrow, so I’ll have some money, so I’ll fill the can and bring it back to you.”

Mort just stands there and stares. His face is turning red and the two veins on the side of his neck is starting to pulse like they need more oxygen—or something. His mouth opens, and he wants to speak, but the right words just don’t come to him. Finally, he closes his mouth, his shoulders droop, and he just turns and walks out.

“If the boss calls, tell him I’ve gone home for the day. I have a headache!” He sez over his shoulder before leaving.

“You’re headache’s back?” I inquire. “Want some aspirin?”

He slams the door and is gone.

Sheesh! That guy can sure get upset over nothing!

Double Sheesh! Now my coffee’s gone cold, and there’s nothing worth reading in the paper this morning … I look around … and the office boy didn’t even bring me any files this morning to put away! What am I gonna do?

… Guess I’ll just have to make another pot of coffee and make it last the day.

Me and Mortimer—Chapter Nine: “Mortimer’s Wedding”

You remember me tellin’ you last week that Mortimer was about to get  hisself married? Well, he actually found a woman that would tolerate his company brownnosing attitude! Honestly, I didn’t think ol’ Mort could do better, matrimonially, than find some desperate old widow needin’ help with her half-dozen out-of-control brats left over from a previous marriage, but he surprised me.

But, last Saturday, it actually happened! Mort got hitched! My wife and I was invited to the wedding, and I met Mort’s wife for the first time. I was quite surprised—and had to admit, Mort made a pretty good catch! She’s really a good lookin’, sexy broad and seems like she’s got smarts—at least more smarts than that company brownnoser she married! I just hope she can educate Mort so that he can get along better with me at work than he has in the past.

The ceremony was the usual schmaltzy stuff, with each of them trading mushy vows that made some of the guests wipe tears from their eyes. About those vows, I say there’s only one important one. A man marries a woman to take care of him, period! And that’s all he needs to tell her. I can’t understand why it’s necessary to have to add all this lovey-dovey stuff to the vows! If my wife feeds me and washes my clothes, I respects her. Sheesh! What more could a good wife want from a guy?

They also put on a pretty good lunch. My wife said—at least I think that’s what she called it: Balsamic glazed chicken thighs. Whatever—the main thing is, it was chicken, and it was good! I don’t understand why some folk spend so much time giving fancy names to what they’re eating. As if it’s gonna make the food taste better! I was gonna go and have a third helping, but my wife stopped me. She said I shouldn’t make a pig of myself.

The frustrating part of the refreshments, though, was they didn’t serve real refreshments like they do at football games. They served some kinda imported wine from Chile. My wife said—again, that’s what I think she said—I don’t pay much attention to them fancy foreign names, but I think she called it Merlot, and it was a red wine. Too sweet for my taste. I prefer beer, so I only had two glasses of the stuff. They also served the wine in those long-stemmed crystal glasses. At first, I was scared to pick up one of them glasses in fear I’d break the stem, but at this point, I really needed a drink, so I took the risk. Again, I prefer good ol’ beer glasses. They’s tough and they’re used to rough handlin’ by guys like me.

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot to mention the preacher that was there to marry Mortimer and his lady. Surprising thing is, it wasn’t a he: it was a she preacher! She was dressed in a ordinary business suit and looked like anybody else at the wedding. If my wife hadn’t of pointed her out to me as being a preacher, I’d of guessed she was just one of the several other women there who didn’t have a man to support her.

I don’t think God intended women to be preachers! Personally, I prefer the old-fashioned men-type preachers: men dressed in black with all kinds of fancy gold and white decorations on their robes and hats. Makes them look important and reverend and pious sounding—something like a politician who’s just got caught committing a mortal sin and needs confessing: makes you almost want to believe them!

After lunch they cleared the floor and brought out the band. Not a superior quality band, like we used to have when I was younger, but a bunch of kids with those loud electric guitars and drums, and they was yellin’ into their mics and jumpin’ around and twistin’ on stage like their jeans was too tight and they needed to scratch but couldn’t reach the itch! That’s when me and the wife left the wedding! It was even too much for her.

About eleven o’clock, Mortimer and his new bride took off on their honeymoon, and Mort will be gone from the office for the rest of the week.

That’s all the news I have about the wedding itself.  Right now, I’m sittin’ here at my desk in the office, just twiddlin’ my thumbs while I’m talkin’ to you …

sheesh! … Good thing you’re a good listener! Makes it lonely, not havin’ Mort here. Thank goodness at least I got you to talk to and tell you about the latest happenings here at the company and between me and Mort. Makes the day go faster when I can just talk to someone.

… Yeah, I know, know!  I could put away those files before going home early again, but the office boy only brought a few files for me to file today, and Mort’s not here to check on me, so I think I’ll wait ‘till tomorrow to file them.

What do you think of the two extra police the town’s hired last week? One of the cops is even a woman, can you believe that? What if she has to arrest some big, drunken bum? How’s she gonna get the cuffs on him?

Personally, I don’t see where crime is on the increase in town. Just ‘cause there was a drunken brawl outside the pub that hurt that one woman and her kid and the news carried it for nearly a week, don’t mean we need more cops! What was the woman with her kid doing on the streets so late at night, anyway? And where was her husband? He shoulda been there protecting his wife and kid! Anyone with superior sense, like I have, knows that women are the weaker sex and shouldn’t be on the streets at night without an escort! That’s what husbands are for: to protect their wives if they ever has gotta be out late at night.

And, as for the kids, they shouldn’t be on the streets after dark to begin with. Sure, there are more cases of drug use in our area today then when I was a kid; break-ins and vandalism, but I say, all the more reason for women and kids to stay home after dark where it’s safer and they can be better protected by their husbands.

Also, I gotta ask your opinion about our town paper. I read in the editorial that the owner is askin’ the town to pitch in with some money. The owner figures that, since his paper is a small-town paper and don’t got the circulation a big city has, nor the advertising revenue, that he needs a little extra help in keeping the paper going. He sez that a newspaper is a town’s life blood and information source, but I disagree with him.

I’m sure you still remember the Crown and Star pub that used to be located on ninth street and second avenue.  It finally shut its doors about six months ago. It wanted some help from the town, but the town said that the pub wasn’t a vital business, like a newspaper, so they wouldn’t help them, even though the pub ran weekly bingos which, in my superior opinion, made it a social center for town gossip and news, no different than a newspaper.

Sheesh! Some folk is sure picky about what they calls news!

Speaking of news and newspapers, I gotta tell you, one thing I faithfully reads every morning in the paper, it’s my horoscope. If you really want to know what your day is gonna be like, read your horoscope. Just to show you how accurate them horoscopes are, here’s what mine sez for today. By the way, I’m a Libra.

It may at times be annoying that not everyone sees things the same way as you see things, but if they did, life would be hugely boring, which is far worse.” See how factual a horoscope is? That defines me to a “T”. Not many folks agrees with my superior views, but I just gotta accept that most folks just ain’t as smart as I am!

… Oh my gosh! I see it’s almost three o’clock. I hope you ain’t gonna be mad at me for running out on you like this without tellin’ you more news, but I gotta rush or I’ll miss my bus. My wife needed the car this morning, so I had to take the bus.

See you next week!

Me and Mortimer, Chapter Eight: “The Superior Craft of Whittling”

While I was havin’ my coffee this mornin’ before tacklin’ that stack of files the office clerk loaded on my desk last night, I was watching Mortimer use his prized wood chisels to carve the company logo into a oval slice of pine wood that the company had cut special for this project from a old pine tree that grew on the north side of the main company building. The company is buildin’ a new employee cafeteria on the spot where that pine tree was growin’, and the tree was in the way so it had to be cut down.

Mort’s been so busy carving on that piece of wood he ain’t even interested in talkin’ to me, even after I prodded him with questions about his so-called special love of wood carving, so I’ll just talk to you about things in general today.

The engineer wanted to cut down the tree and haul it to the dump, but a lot of the employees got together and asked the company to save a slab of the tree—sort of in memory of that tree many of the employees had had their open air lunch under in years past—and make it into a plaque and hang it on the wall in the new cafeteria. The boss thought it was a good, nostalgic idea.

Nostalgic nonsense from a bunch of employees who ain’t workin’ hard enough, if you ask me! A tree is a tree, and there’s a whole bunch more growin’ in the forest just west of town, if you ever want one—or a hundred, even, if you need more.

Anyway, gettin’ back to my story. The company is payin’ Mortimer extra to carve their logo into that piece of wood, and Mort’s sure taking his time in carving it! Every little detail has to be just so! Sez it’s pride in workmanship: doin’ a job right, he sez, but I think he’s just wastin’ a lot of time and company money. Sheesh! If that were me, it wouldn’t take more than a afternoon to finish that thing, and think of all the extra money I could pocket!

I always say, the guy that can make a dime without overworkin’ hisself is smarter than the guy working overtime for the same dime just to please the boss. But, I guess, each of us has his own values, and not all values are as superior as mine!

Mort really takes special pride in them wood chisels of his. Tells me that they was quite expensive when he bought them some years back when he took a design and wood carvin’ course at our local tech. I read stories where more modern wood carvers are now using electronic chisels instead of the old-fashioned hand chisels, but I guess ol’ Mort hasn’t modernized his ways yet.  Sez he feels that the real craft of wood carvin’ lies in using hand tools. Gives a fella a special pride and feel for the wood and the finished product that electronic chisels just can’t give you.

Mortimer thinks he knows a lot about design and wood carving, ‘specially since he took that course at Tech, but I tried to show him he really don’t know nothing about the real craft of wood carving, like I learned as a kid, and what we then used to call, whittling.

When I was a kid, in my home town where I grew up, a kid was considered just a baby until his dad figured he was growed up enough to own his own pocket knife. Then he’d be considered old enough to be part of the gang of the older kids.

I remember, on my sixth birthday, my dad presented me with my first pocket knife.

“Son,” he said, “I think your old enough where you can safely handle your own pocket knife!” I was real proud of my dad for figerin’ that I was a big kid now! I loved my dad, and I think he had more brains than Einstein’s pussy-cat!

My first knife was a Swiss Pocket Knife and had a black handle and had two blades, a small and a big blade. Never did figure out what the small blade was good for, so I just used the big blade for whittlin’ and carving things.

Now that I was part of the Big Kids Gang, we’d spend a lot of our time in the willow bushes by the town gravel pit. By using a trick only us Big Kids knew, we could whittle real-workin’ whistles out of a piece of willow bark. I remember, we’d blow and blow on them whistles, thinkin’ it was lots of fun, and that’s how we spent a lot of our summer afternoons.

One problem we Big Kids had with pocket knives was that most of us would end up cutting our thumbs with the knife until we learned to respect and use them properly. ‘Cause I was smarter than most of the other Big Kids, I only cut my thumb twice before I learned to use it properly, but Reggie Allred was just the opposite. Reggie was bigger than me, had curly black hair, and was the goofball of our group. He cut his thumb more times than a duck said “Quack!” after laying its batch of eggs in the marsh.

Reggie and I became best friends. I remember once, Reggie convinced me to join him in sneakin’ under widow Anne’s window in the afternoon while she was trying to sleep—she slept a lot in the afternoons—and we’d try to drive her crazy with our constant whistlin’. She took it for a while, and we were almost ready to give up on our prank, thinkin’ it wasn’t working, when she complained to my dad, so my dad took away my pocket knife for a week and made me promise never to bother widow Anne again.

Anyway, all this reminiscin’ is meant to show you what real whittling—or wood carving really is. Kids now-a-days, with their iPads, just don’t know what real fun and craftsmanship is about!

Anyway, it’s getting’ near lunch time and I still have to do all that filing. Normally, I’d just leave the filing and do it all on Friday afternoon, but my wife made Mort promise to snitch on me and tell her if I ever slacked off again, ‘cause if I did, that meant no supper and no TV when I got home from work, so I’ll stop talkin’ for a bit and do the filing, then I’ll talk to you again after lunch.

——————————

Well, ol’ Mort never even took all of his lunch time that he’s entitled to, he’s so involved in carving that company logo. I think that’s treasonous on his part—I mean, not takin’ all of his lunch time. If he keeps doing that, pretty soon the company will expect the same from the rest of us, and I ain’t about to sacrifice my free time! No, sir! We got union laws in this company, and I aims to respect them!

Oh—before I go home early this afternoon—goin’ home early ‘cause I finished my filing, so no use staying around here, I gotta tell you something. In case you hadn’t already hear about it, Mortimer’s getting married this Saturday! That’s right. He’s finally found someone that’ll tolerate his company brownnosing attitude and marry him! Me and the wife got an invite to his wedding. I wanted to go fishing this Saturday, but one look from my wife—she shoulda been a Sergeant Major, I tell you; I pity the guy who’d ever say “no” to her!

My wife bought them a expensive Wedgewood bone china breakfast set as a wedding present. When I heard what she spent on that breakfast set, I was gonna mention to her that I coulda, instead, bought that expensive fishing tackle box with all the fish hooks I’d ever need in it, that I always wanted, but I hadn’t finished my supper yet, so decided to say nothing!

I haven’t met his future wife yet, but I hope she’s gonna be good and firm with Mort, ‘cause that guy can sure use some smartening up, if you ask me! I gave you an example earlier, where Mortimer didn’t even believe me when I explained to him that whittling was a superior art to wood carving, and that’s just a small sample about the way he thinks!

Oh well, not everyone can have the superior upbringing like I had. Some of us, like ol’ Mort, for example, just gotta learn the hard way that you gotta grab what’s yours, and not wait for someone to hand it to you—like Mort not taking his full lunch hour at noon today. That’s breaking union rules, and it can get me so mad!

Sheesh!

I turns to Mort, who’s got his back to me, and sez, “Good night, Mort. I’m goin’ home now. Don’t forget to lock the shed when you leave!” I figured I’d best tell him that I was leaving, in case he turns around and finds I’m not here anymore.

 

Me and Mortimer

Sometimes life just ain’t fair! Take this mornin’ for example. My wife and kids got up early, even before the neighborhood sparrows had started their infernal, irritatin’ chatter, so that she and the kids could get a early start on their trip to Vancouver Island. The kids, especially, was up even before my wife got outa bed, yellin’ and screemin’ and runnin’ around all excited and makin’ enough noise to wake a grave digger’s catch of the day!

Of course, the family decided—without my input, as usual—to use the family car for their holiday, which meant I would have to catch the bus to work all this week.

Before she closed the door behind her on the way out, my wife made sure I was awake so I wouldn’t sleep in and be late for work. Sheesh! As if anyone could sleep through the racket those kids was makin’!

I glanced at the alarm clock. Seven o’clock? I ain’t gettin’ up this early, so I rolled over to catch a few extra zees before I’d hafta face the day for real. Besides, it only takes me fifteen minutes to drive to work, so, why get up this early?

Like I said, sometimes life puts you behind the eight ball, no matter what you do. Those extra zees I decided to take turned into an hour-long nap, and I still had to make some breakfast before heading out to work! And, I’d completely forgotten that I’d have to take the bus all this week, which means it takes longer to get to work than by car.

Of course, bein’ late, I missed the bus I shoulda took, so I had to wait for the next one, which made me half hour late to get to work! Sometimes, I swear, if I didn’t have any bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all!

Fortunately for me, when I finally did get to work, Mortimer was already out mowin’ the grass around the company parking lot, so he never noticed me sneak in late and wouldn’t be able to snitch the fact that I was late again to my wife—or, so at least, I thought.

Meanwhile, back to the present.

That Mortimer!  Sometimes I have to shake my head when I see how he forgets his priorities. He forgot to make coffee again, leaving that responsibility up to me. How many times must I tell him, first guy into the office in the morning, makes the coffee!

So, naturally, the first thing I had to do was make a fresh pot of coffee. While I was waitin’ for the water to boil, I opened the mornin’ paper and read the headline: “Senator Drymann refuses to support Parliament’s bill to buy ten new fighter jets for our armed forces.”

For you folks out there who don’t know, Drymann’s the guy our Prime Minister recently appointed to The Upper Chamber and he’s been makin’ a real name for hisself among the flower power radicals by refusin’ to support any kind of bill the government tries to introduce that will increase defense spending.

Sheesh! You’d think those young tree-huggen’, pot smokin’  radicals had better things to do than spend their time parading in front of the parliament buildings, acting like they knew better than us old folks do about what’s best for the country.

That news headline got me so mad at ol’ Drymann I was ready to sit down and write to him and tell him he was wrong for not supporting our troops … but I see the water in the coffee pot’s boilin’ so, instead, I had to close the paper and go make the coffee. At the same time I was makin’ the coffee, Mortimer comes into our office, grass stains all over his knees where he’s been kneeling, and oil all over his hands.

“You have to come and help me with the lawn mower,” he sez to me, completely ignorin’ the fact that I was already busy with my own priority—makin’ the coffee—and didn’t have time to help him with his stupid lawn mower. “The blade broke and I need someone to help me tilt the mower and hold it so I can unscrew the broken blade and install a new one.”

I was about to give Mortimer a piece of my mind for interrupting my important coffee-making chore and to go find someone that was doing nothin’ that could help him with his lawn mower … but then I thought, maybe this could be a good time to discuss Drymann’s stupid decision with him and see what he thinks, so I turned off the boiling water and went out to the parking lot with him instead.

“Here—I’ll lift up the mower on this end, and I want you to hold it in that position while I take off the blade.” Mortimer lifts up the side of the mower and waits for me to grab hold.

“Why don’tcha just get a piece of two-by-four and prop up the mower? Then you wouldn’t need my help.”

“Just hold it steady—like this!” He snaps at me.

Sheesh! I thought it was a good idea. Anyway, I dismiss ol’ Mort’s snarky comment, thinkin’ he’s probably having a bad morning, with his lawn mower being broken and all that, so I asks him, “What ya think of Drymann’s decision not to support our troops?”

Mortimer stops unscrewing the bolts on the lawn mower blade and looks up at me, sort of funny like, like as if I hadn’t made myself clear.

“You know,” I sez, making it more simple so even Mort could understand, “voting against the bill for our government to buy those ten new jets.”

“I think Senator Drymann made a very responsible decision in voting against that purchase,” Mort turns back to unscrewing the bolts and removes the broken blade. “I’d like to see our country become more interested in promoting peace, rather than fighting wars we don’t need to get involved in.”

Huh!” Mort’s remark shocked me to the core. I hadn’t expected that kinda unpatriotic talk from him! “You mean, we shouldn’t defend our country and not give our troops the best fightin’ machines we can?” I didn’t think Mort was that kind of guy, not supporting our government in fighting terrorism.

“Defending our country can often be better accomplished through peaceful talks, rather than preparing for war.”

“Well, I say, the best way to have peace is to prepare for war!” I snapped back at Mortimer in a finality that prevented any chance for him to disagree with my superior views. He now had finished attaching the new blade, so I was able to let go of my end of the lawn mower. Good thing, ‘cause my arms was getting’ pretty tired holding up that stupid, stinky thing.

Mortimer just shrugged off my superior argument, and, instead, began priming the engine on the lawn mower. “That’s why it’s such a privilege to live in a democratic country like ours where each of us can express our opinion, and not be silenced by dictatorial rule.” The mower started real easy so Mort wasted no time in leaving me stand there while he finished cutting the lawn.

“Yeah? Well, I think ol’ Drymann’s just a sleezy politician not caring about whether our country’s defended or not!” I shouted after Mortimer, but I don’t think he heard me over the racket that noise machine of his was making.

Having to walk all the way back to my office in the tool shed from the parking lot really left me tired. I looked at the stack of files on my desk that needed putting away, and that made me feel even more tired. At that point, I really wanted to quit—but I knew my wife would get really angry at me if I did, so I started filing …

… “Coffee!” I shouted aloud. With havin’ to help Mortimer, and him getting me angry about how Drymann was letting down our troops, made me completely forget that I hadn’t had my coffee this morning. I walked over to the table and turned on the coffee pot, then sat down and again open the morning paper, ignorin’ the headlines about Drymann.

I needed a rest!

Me and Mortimer—Chapter Six, “Gone Camping”

Well, like I promised, I put my foot down and insisted the family go campin’ with me up at Pine Lake instead of goin’ to Marine Land. The wife didn’t wanna go campin’ with me—sez she’s not one to rough it and sleep outdoors in a tent—Hmph! I guess, like most delicate women, she prefers shopin’ malls and sidewalks instead of fresh air and nature! And the kids—’specially the kids—they didn’t want to go campin’, no way! They had set their heart on visitin’ Marine Land on Vancouver Island, and no amount of persuadin’ or bribin’ on my part could convince them otherwise!

Sheesh! Kids, now-a-days. They just don’t have no appreciation for nature anymore! Anyway, like I said, I put my foot down and told them, it’s my way, or the highway! Even threats of lowerin’ their allowance wasn’t gonna persuade them otherwise.

Turns out, when I gave them that kind of an ultimatum, they preferred the highway. So, come late Sunday night, when I was packin’ my pup tent and fishin’ gear into the car, I decided to give them a final chance: enjoy nature, or eat smog in the city.

Again, they stubbornly chose smog over fresh air! So, come Monday mornin,’ I just started off for Pine Lake all by myself!

Of course, nobody told me that it was a long weekend so there was more campers at the lake than ants in a anthill! I had to drive around for a while, but finally found a spot that was a bit distant from the lake itself. The ground was a bit soggy from last night’s rain, but my pup tent had a waterproof floor, so I wasn’t gonna get wet sleeping at nights—at least I hoped not to get wet.

I just got my tent up and settled down when a guy with one of those god-awful dirt bikes, snortin’ noise and exhaust, comes roarin’ down the trail, almost on top of me, not slowin’ down or carin’ about my safety, and splashes mud all over me and my tent! I jumped up and was gonna grab his bike and throw it in the lake, but he was too quick for me.  He just goes roarin’ off, laughin’ like a insane hyena that had just escaped from the zoo, sprayin’ more mud in my face on the way out.

I forgot to pack some extra water for washing, so I had to walk all the way down to the lake to wash off the mud. Of course, it was dusk and the sun had just set and the night air was gettin’ cool, so after washing myself, I shivered all the way back to my tent where I had forgot my towel. I lit my small camp stove, and it gave me enough heat so I could stop shiverin.’

What a way to end my first day campin’!

I was woke up early next mornin’ by a bunch of noisy crows squabblin’ over some smelly thing they had found near a tree stump. I threw a stone at them and they scattered. I tried goin’ to sleep again, but couldn’t, so since I was awake anyway, I thought I might’s well get dressed and try some fishin.’ Trouble was, a dozen other guys had the same idea, and all the nice spots were already taken. So, again, I had to move up a ways over some slippery rocks before I could get into an area of water that I thought might hold some fish.

Lucky for me, I caught my first fish in less than half an hour of casting! But, now I had a problem. No use me catchin’ more fish, ‘cause I could only pan fry and eat one fish and I didn’t want to quit and go back to my tent so soon so I released that fish back into the water, and baited my hook with a new worm and kept on fishin.’

That was a mistake! Noon came, and I had not caught another fish! A guy just down a bit from where I was fishin’ caught four beautiful, nine-inch-long lake trout, so when he packed up and left I took his spot, hopin’ I’d have the same luck as he had.

Three o’clock, and no luck! The fish just wasn’t biting for me today, and I was startin’ to get a bit tired, standin’ like this in the water in my waders, so I just packed it up and walked back to my tent. Lucky for me, I was smart enough to pack some extra grub—just in case—so I opened a can of Spam and had it for supper, pretending it was a lake trout that I had caught. To help with the taste, and make me feel  better, I even imagined that I had fried it in butter, lightly salted and turned to perfection, over my camp fire.

Evening was turning out to be just perfect. There was no wind, and the lake was calm and smooth as glass, reflectin’ all those nice evening colors of the sunset. God just don’t make more beautiful evenings than like tonight!

But, that nice evening didn’t last long. A bunch of young punks, closer down by the lake itself, decided to have a party! I could see them haulin’ out cases of beer and settin’ them next to a huge fire they had built out of dead tree sticks the lake had washed ashore.

My hunch was right. By midnight, them punks was hootin’ and hollerin’ and makin’ more noise than a bunch of howling banshees at a family reunion!

I guess somebody musta complained to the cops about them, ‘cause it wasn’t long after midnight when two park rangers came by and sorta busted up the party and ordered the punks out of the park.

I started walkin’ down to the punk-party-that-was to add my complaint to the park rangers, but it wasn’t necessary. By the time I got down there, the punks were already on their way out. But, talkin’ to the rangers, I did find out some news I was glad to hear. Remember me tellin’ you about the guy and his dirt bike that nearly ran over me? Well, turns out that he hit a fallen tree just a bit past me and my tent and he and his bike went flyin’ and tumblin’ down through the brushy slope, nearly into the lake itself! He ended up with a broken collar bone and a broken ankle. And I didn’t have to throw his bike into the lake. When he hit that fallen tree, that tree did a better job on his bike than I could have even imagined!

Well, the rest of the week at the lake was pretty quiet. I did catch a few fish and ate them for my supper—I like ‘em best when they’re fried in butter and with a bit of salt on them, so the week wasn’t entirely wasted.

I guess I could mention to you about a little incident that happened on Thursday. Thursday, just before noon, I had caught my fifth lake trout of the week—a real beauty, I might add, only this time I wasn’t gonna be silly enough to throw it back into the water and keep on fishin’ like I did on Monday. No sir, not this time! “Once fooled, shame on you. Twice fooled, shame on me,” I always ses.

I unhooked the fish from my line and carefully laid it on a rock outcrop in the water just behind me and kept on fishin’. Well, not even a minute later—with my luck, wouldn’t you know it—and quicker than a politician can deny he said somethin’ stupid, a sea gull swooped down and snatched that fish off the rock, and before I could turn and grab it back, it and my fish was gone!

“I hope you choke on it!” I yelled and shook my fist at that departing thief. I was so upset I just spit in the lake and quit fishin’ for the day. Lucky for me, I still had one can of Spam left, so I had that for supper!

Lookin’ back over the week, it was disappointing. I got a rash on my arms from all those mosquito bites—and, of course, forgot to bring insect repellant with me to stop ‘em from bitin’ me. I tore a long rip into the seat of my pants from a branch I accidently fell against, so after that, I had to watch that I didn’t expose my backside to anyone I met on the trail, and I accidently spilled into the water the remaining can of worms that I was using to bait my fishin’ pole. All told, I was havin’ a bad week, so decided it was time to get outa here!

When I arrived back home late Sunday night I found my wife and kids had their travel bags all packed and ready to go first thing Monday mornin’.

“You had your holiday, now we’re having ours!” she bluntly told me, without so much as askin’ how I enjoyed my campin’ trip.

“—Oh, and here.” She passed me a postcard that the mailman had delivered to the house. It was from Mortimer.

“Welcome back to work on Monday!” the card read. “I missed our arguments!”

Sheesh!”

Me and Mortimer, “My Wife is now My Boss” Chapter Four


Do you remember, last week me tellin’ you all about my sunburn that I got from going to the beach with my wife’s sister’s kids? Well, after ol’ Mort left in a huff ‘cause I didn’t tell him right away that the boss wanted to see him, I poured myself another cup of coffee and started readin’ the mornin’ paper, plannin’ to have a restful day and heal my sunburn.

Well, I suddenly got the urge to go and relieve myself, and the only bathroom close by was in the company’s main building, ‘top of the hill. I didn’t want to put on my shirt ‘cause my sunburn still hurt, so I went to use the company washroom without my shirt on. No problem, I thought, ‘cause I ain’t exposing myself—got my pants on, haven’t I? —and what the heck, who ain’t seen a guy without his shirt on before?

A bit later, as I was just comin’ out of the washroom—it’s on the second floor where all the brass and their uppity lady secretaries have their offices, when one of the ladies—Actually, hag is a better description of her, comes out her office door and into the hallway where I am waiting for an elevator. When she sees me she stops, sudden like, and with the most horrible surprised look on her face, like, as if she’s just seen the end of the world, points her gnarled, witch-like finger at me and yells, “Sir, what are you doing here with no shirt on? That’s indecent exposure!”

This lady looked mean, I tell ya, so I wasn’t about to stand there and explain all about my sunburn and how I couldn’t wear a shirt, so I forgets about waitin’ for the elevator and ducked into the stairway, hopin’ she wouldn’t follow me.

So, I barely gets back to my office here in the Maintenance Shed, out of breath ‘cause I was runin’ all the way, when the shed door bursts open and my straw boss, Jason, bursts in with his wicked witch of the north secretary tailin’ him like a devoted lap dog.

Just as a side note, neither of them likes me, and especially that secretary. She’s had it in for me right from the start.

Jason ain’t the CEO of the company. Jason’s the guy who was told by the boss to hire me, but he’s been trying to find an excuse ever since to fire me. Figures I’m not good enough for the company … Hah! At least I ain’t no brownnoser like he is!

As I said, this little runt—and I calls him that ‘cause he really is little more than four feet tall, comes burstin’ into the shed, completely ignores Mortimer who’s standin’ quietly over there by the lawn mower and he comes to face me where I’m sitting at my desk.

“What were you doing in the main office without your shirt on?” He sorta half yells at me. He’s sure upset, and that secretary-hag tailin’ him gives me a look that would melt the armor off a battle ship. “We’ve got strict dress codes in our office,” he continues. “Besides, I told you before that the main office is off limits to you!”

I started explaining to him that all this was ‘cause of my sunburn, and I had to relieve myself, but he wasn’t listening, and I think quite on purpose. Looks to me like that witch-secretary of his did her job of makin’ him hate me on their way over here.

“I’ve had it with you and your crazy antics! You’re nothing but a screw-up! You’re fired!” Then he and that secretary-hag of his turn, and like they was one in mind and intent, start for the door. He stops long enough to look back to tell me, “you can pick up your paycheck just before five this afternoon, and I don’ want to see you on this property again! Is that clear?”

It was actually a bit surprisin’ … I mean, the way that little runt was actin’ so angry all of a sudden. I know he don’t like me, but normally, he’s usually a quiet guy, so I think he was usin’ this whole incident about me not wearin’ a shirt as final excuse to fire me—and, of course, that skinny secretary of his backin’ his hate for me, made his anger for me even worse!

“Sheesh!” I shake my head and mutters to myself. A lot’s happened in just one minute and I gotta sit down to think things over. Maybe me bein’ fired ain’t such a bad thing after all! I’ve been with the company long enough now where I can draw employment benefits, so I don’t need to work for a few months … and with today’s pay cheque I can go buy that fishin’ pole I’ve always wanted, and relax, and do some fishin’ on the lake instead of wastin’ my time here in this stupid office! … that’ll teach the company not to be so hasty in firing a good employee like me!

In all this commotion, I forgot about Mortimer. Suddenly I hear him move in the shadows somewhere by his work bench. He starts whistlin’

Yankee Doodle came to town

A-riding on his pony

He stuck a feather in his cap

And called it Macaroni.

For a moment, I was so dumstruck—I didn’t expect him to make fun of me. That whistlin’ of his obviously was a victory whistle tellin’ me he was glad I was fired and no longer be in his maintenance shed! I jumped up— Ouch!—too sudden like. I wanted to go over and punch him in the nose, but my sunburn hurt more than my for Mortimer, so I sat down again. Just then the door again opens and the Straw Boss, Jason, comes back in, only this time he ain’t got his hag-secretary with him: he’s got my wife with him! I was so surprised I even forgot about my sunburn!

Jason doesn’t look me in the eyes—just sorta looks down, then mutters, “Looks like you’re not fired after all.” He half turns his back to me, and I can see that it’s hard for him to say this, then blurts out, “The boss called me in and—uh, we talked … and—uh,  looks like you’re not fired.”

“And you can thank me—and Gertrude—for your boss changing his mind about firing you,” my wife butted in.

“Your wife’s going to be your new boss for a while,” Jason added. Then, without further explanation, he just up and leaves without further explanation.

My wife don’t look happy—much like a mad hen that’s been disturbed off her nest. I move to behind my desk. Not out of fear or anything like that, but thinkin’ it safer if I put some distance between her and me right now. My wife looks at the heap of files on my desk.

“You have some filing to do, mister!” she tells me, and I got a feelin’ she means it! “You don’t leave here until all those files are put away!”

I looks at the clock. It’s quarter-to-five! My heart sank. “But I don’t got time to put all them files away before five!” I protest. Out of the corner of my eye I see Mortimer put on his cap and silently sneak out.

“You should have thought about that earlier in the day when you did have time!” she informs me!   I was thinkin’ of objecting, but the look on her face made me think otherwise.

“And no supper, no television tonight, until those files are all filed away!”

My sunburn ain’t nothin’ compared to the stare I get from my wife. Slowly, painfully, I pick up some files and start filing.

 

Me and Mortimer. “Death in the Saddle,” Chapter Two.

If you’re like me and got kids, you know that proper schoolin’ takes up a good part of their lives. I got a teenage daughter who’s just graduated into high school and she sez she wants to major in journalism after she’s finished with school. I told her she’d be better off if she’d go in for bein’ a doctor. She’d make much more money, bein’ a doctor than a journalist, but, no! She’s as stubborn as her mother. A journalist is what my daughter’s gonna be, and that’s it!

Her teacher keeps givin’ her a bunch of homework assignments. Sez they’re good practice assignments to help her become a better journalist, but I think she’s as wacky as a dodo bird tryin’ a backwards flip!

Back in the days when I went to school we had no homework—or if our teacher was stupid enough to try and force homework on us, I just wouldn’t do it. After school was fer other, more important things, like playin’ ball, or meet the gang at the local pool hall, not homework!

Anyway, as I was sayin’, the teacher keeps givin’ my daughter all these journalist practice assignments, and so I finally caved in and promised to help her become a good journalist, so this mornin’ I brought some paper and a pencil with me to show my daughter what good journalism is like.

I pour myself my first cup of coffee for the day, read only the headlines in the newspaper so I can sooner get down to writin’ and show my daughter what good journalism is.

So now I’m sitting here at my desk, thinkin’ hard about what would make a good western story. I’m bein’ as quiet as possible and not disturb Mort. So far, he’s in a pretty good mood, and I don’t want him to get angry again and stomp out of here, like he did last week. I write …

Like balls of weightless cotton, the fog drifted down the mountains, covering the Pecos Valley in a thick mist as if it were trying to hide the terrible black secret hidden__

“Nah! That’s no good!” I crumple up the paper and throw it into the garbage and try again.

The sharp crack of three rapid gunshots echoed across the sparse cactus growth of the parched, choking valley floor, shattering the stillness of the growing purple shadows of impending night. At the first crack of the rifle shot, jack rabbits leaped to attention, their ears perked, frozen in fear—

“Eh, even worse!” I try once more.

The full moon hung low over the horizon, like an outrider’s beacon, guiding the lone rider, pushing his horse to the limit, ever westward through the tangled sage—”

“Aw, this just ain’t workin’!” I said out loud, I throw down my pencil and lean back in my chair. I’m gettin’ nowhere—looks like writin’ is harder than I thought!

“What are you trying to write anyway?” I guess I shouldn’ta spoke out loud ‘cause it attracted Mortimer’s curiosity. He stopped rummaging through the old tobacco can full of saved nuts and bolts and looked at me.

“My daughter’s got this western pulp fiction literature assignment for school and I said I’d help her. Sez she might be a journalist some day.”

“Did she ask for your help?”

“Well, nah! You know how kids are. Too independent. Think they know more than their parents, but I thought I’d just show her up by writin’ a good story.”

“So, your daughter is interested in becoming a journalist?”

“She talks all the time about it. I told her that if she’d go ahead with her plans to be a journalist, she’d be as poor as a crop sharer on a flood plain, but you know how kids are. Never listen to their parents.”

“Many journalists make excellent careers out of writing. Good journalism is important to our society. It keeps us accurately informed about world events.”

“You mean, mis-informed! What this country needs is some good old fashioned teachers like we usta have, and some morals like we usta have!”

“Your daughter’s school assignment is to write a western pulp fiction story? That doesn’t sound much like a journalism assignment.”

“Well—that’s not what her teacher wants her to write about. Her teacher wants her to write a research paper on early life of—get this: ‘Early Northern Inuit Life Before Whiteman came.’ How about that fer a stupid title and subject? Hah! In my time they was called Eskimos, not Inuit. And what kinda life did they have anyway—they had no history before we came and gave them guns so that they could hunt better and build wooden houses instead of them igloo things.”

“But, that’s a real journalism assignment—I mean, what the teacher gave your daughter.”

“Yeah, that’s what you and that stupid teacher say. I told my daughter that, if she really wants to get ahead in this world, she better learn how to write good western fiction! I grew up on dime wester pulp fiction, so I know. They’s the backbone of our society!”

“Well, I guess she’s your daughter—” Mortimer just shrugs and turns back to his can of nuts and bolts. I make another attempt to write an opening paragraph.

Vultures circle over the dying cowboy’s horse—”

“Shouldn’t you be filing that backlog of files on your desk instead of working on your personal stuff?”

Mort’s comment makes me see red! That man just ain’t got no sense of good literature! I open my mouth to yell at him, “What’s more important: filin’ some stupid files that someone’s gonna want pulled again later anyway, or teachin’ a child about literature?” But I keep quiet ‘cause it’s almost lunch time … what the heck, why let Mortimer ruin my day? I decided, instead, to go plug in the coffee pot and, while I’m waitin’ for the pot to start boilin,’ I sort through some files.

So far, today’s been a peaceful day workin’ here with Mort, but with his attitude, I don’t know how long that can last!

 

Me and Mortimer—Chapter One—Introduction

This is the introduction to a series of short, humorous stories in the life of a middle-aged man whom, you might say, is a square peg trying to fit into a round hole – an Andy Capp sort of a guy who’s opinionated, who claims to know it all—or thinks he does and doesn’t mind sharing his version of what’s right with his co-workers, and especially with Mortimer, the company Maintenance Man, with whom he is forced to be closely associated with. Not that it was Mortimer’s idea for the two to share space but, well, as you read the story you’ll get to know how this all came about.

—–o0o—–

This is “Me” talkin’. I do most of the talkin’ and explainin’ around here now ‘cause Mortimer don’t say much anymore. When I first came here we used to talk with each other more, but I guess he just couldn’t stand my correctin’ the way he was always doin’ things wrong, so he mostly avoids me now.

First, I gotta tell you how come I got my office moved down here in the maintenance tool shed with Mortimer. Mortimer is the company’s Maintenance Man—sort of a general fixer-upper who thinks he knows a lot of stuff about a lot of things Well I think he knows something about a lot of things, but I say he ain’t no specialist in any one thing, if you know what I mean.

I joined the company about three years ago. I was hired to work on the second floor in the main Administrative Office back up there on the hill as a File Clerk. It wasn’t a bad job. The pay is good and it didn’t require much work, but my boss was one of those guys who sure didn’t know nothin’ about filing! At the time, I tried over and over again to show him how the filing system should be set up, but he didn’t seem to appreciate my help. Some boss, if you ask me; can’t take any correction!

At first, he just ignored me and just went about doin’ things his own way anyway, but later, he started gettin’ mad at me fer insistin’ he should try and do things the right way—my way. Then, one day, he just exploded.

“That’s enough! I’ve had it with you,” I can still remember him yellin’ at me. “I’m moving you out of my sight!”

An’, that’s how I got to have my office and the filing cabinets moved into the Company’s Maintenance Shed here where Mortimer works. They had to clean out a section of the shed just for me and my filing cabinets, and I don’t think ol’ Mortimer liked that ‘cause it took some space away from all his fixer-upper junk that he uses in his work. You’d think that he’d complain about havin’ less space now, but, no sir! Not ol Mort! Mort’s one of those ‘yes-men’ that the company likes to keep around. Not like me. If I see somethin’s done the way it ain’t supposed to be done, I speak out!

I’m still in charge of filing, though. The boss didn’t take that important job from me. Good thing, too, ‘cause if he’da threatened to fire me one more time, I’da just turned around and quit!

Of course, Mortimer was quick to mark off his space in the tool shed from mine. My space is over here—see, over here in the north-east corner. Problem is, I got no window to look out of, nor do I get any sunshine comin’ in, and it can get a bit cool here, so I always gotta wear a jacket.

Actually, when I saw how things was turnin’ out, I was ready to accept the boss’s offer and just quit, but I needed the job, so I agreed to the move. What the heck, I thought, I can still exert my expertise on the company’s filing system from here in the shed.

These days, Mort mostly speaks to me only when I asked him something, or if he needs something from me. You’ll see later on why he acts so funny. I’ll explain more about him and why I think he’s screwier than a backwards-threaded nut, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’ll give you an example of what I mean about the guy.  I just got to work this mornin’ and barely had a chance to finish readin’ my newspaper and finish my second cup of coffee when I’m disturbed by Mort makin’ all kinds of banging and rattling noise while rooting through his tool box. I can see he’s getting’ sort of frustrated and muttering to hisself. He usually comes in to work early: sometimes about half hour before he’s supposed to be here. The nerd! Tryin’ to suck up to the boss, I guess. Anyway, that’s his business. I don’t come in to work a minute before I’m supposed to. I ain’t no suck-hole!

“What’s buggin’ your butt this mornin’?” I finally ask Mort. The noise of his rootin’ around was interfering with me trying to solve the morning paper’s crossword puzzle.

“You seen my hammer?”

“What hammer?”

“The one that I normally leave here in my tool box.”

I had to think for a moment. “Oh, you mean the one with the red painted wooden handle? I used it to pound a nail into the wall so I could hang his girly calendar of mine. That gal’s really stacked, eh?”

“Well, where did you leave it?”

“Where did I leave what?”

“The hammer! I need it!”

Sheesh! That guy’s temper-fuse is about as short as a bull who just discovered an intruder in his pasture! “Hey, cool it, man! Who’re you yellin’ at? Here’s your dumb hammer, right where I left it … let’s see – yeah, here it is, in my bottom desk drawer.”

Mort grabs the hammer, tosses it into his tool box and stomps out without so much as a thank you to me fer handing him his hammer.

Sheesh! You’d think I was responsible for his tools! But, anyway, now you see what I mean about me tryin’ to get along with folks in this Company. As I already said, if I didn’t need this job so bad, I’d tell them where to shove it.

Until next time, hope you’re havin’ a better day than I am!

Amazing Intelligence in Animals—Magpies and our Cat

 

“The fox, when it sees a flock of heron or magpies or birds of any kind, suddenly flings itself on the ground with his mouth open to look as he were dead; and these birds want to peck at his tongue, and he bites off their heads.”  —Leonardo da Vinci

I don’t always have to Google the world to find good stories about animals. Sometimes the most astounding, cutest, funniest antics of animals can take place right in front of me, right in my own back yard!

This day I was lounging in one of our deck chairs on our patio when my attention was suddenly attracted to a corner of our yard near the shed, where two Magpies were making quite a ruckus. I glanced over and here was one Magpie limping, screeching its distress call (its version of help?), fluttering its wings like it was injured and couldn’t fly. It was doing this quite near to where one of our cats was sunning itself in the grass. Naturally the cat thought this a good opportunity for a fresh, feathery lunch and lunged for the bird. However, no sooner did the cat get within a few inches of the Magpie, when the Magpie flew up and perched itself on the fence, screeching (more like cackling) in delight in their high pitched shriek that they have, which, to me, sounded like it was laughing its silly head off at having just fooled the cat.

Meanwhile, the second Magpie flew down and landed just a few feet from where the cat now was, the cat looking a bit dazed and confused, because in its mind, the “wounded” Magpie should have been firmly gripped between its paws, not up there on the fence. The second Magpie repeated the first Magpie’s ‘injured’ prank. Sure enough, the cat fell for the trick and lunged for the second Magpie, and the Magpie also flew away just as the cat got within inches of what it anticipated to be an easy lunch.

The two Magpies repeated this caper, much to their own ‘kinky?’ delight at having so completely frustrated the cat. One Magpie would play injured, then fly away just as the cat got near it, then the second Magpie repeated the first one’s ‘injured’ play, then fly away just as the cat again got near. I finally ended up intervening, for had I not interrupted this little fun-play, I’m sure the two Magpies would have driven that poor cat crazy.

I know Magpies are very intelligent birds and are capable of the most intelligent, creative behavior patterns that I’ve ever seen in birds. But I also know that cats are very intelligent and usually not easily fooled, so why did it fall for the play of these two Magpies? I can only conclude that it would be for the same reason an otherwise seemingly intelligent human falls for the nefarious pranks of a scammer!

Sometimes we are the object of the joke, and sometimes we are the joker.

A Sunday Chat with Myself—Dealing with Scammers

“I have heard that we are spirits having a human experience. Perhaps those of us who have no conscience are dark spirits having a human experience.”  —P.A. Speers

I just received another phone call today from a scammer (those guys are really getting persistent)! I’ve tried several ways to stop them from calling. I’ve got “Caller Block” on my phone, but that only limits me to less than a dozen  calls, and there are a lot more then a dozen scammers out there!

I’ve got “Caller Display” on my phone and so have tried just not answering the phone when I suspect it’s a scammer. That doesn’t seem to work either, because they’ll just keep calling back at different times, hoping to catch me when I’m home—and hopefully answer the phone.

I’ve tried answering these calls and  being extremely rude to them, and that doesn’t work. In fact, I think it’s because, next to the love  these scammers have for scamming you out of your money, the second best thing they seemingly enjoy is listening to your angry tirades. For some time I wondered, why? Why would any person in their right mind listen repeatedly to your angry remarks about him? When was enough, enough, and just hang up? Finally it dawned on me. These guys are sociopaths, so unlike a normal person who gets a “feel good” feeling when they’ve done something nice for you, these sociopaths are the opposite. They get their jollies when know they’ve upset you! When you “give them a piece of your mind,” so to speak, they could happily listen to you all day! I tried something different on today’s caller. I  truncate my conversation.

Me, picking up phone: “Hello!”

Scammer Claiming to be from Microsoft: “Hello. May I speak to Albert Schindler, please?”

Me: “Speaking!”

SCM:”I am calling from Microsoft. Norton tells us that you have some bad files on your computer.”

Me: “Oh, I’m so glad that you called. I’m so lonely today, and I need someone to talk to.”

SCM: ” … hello … are you by your computer?”

Me: “You have such a nice, pleasant voice! It’s such a pleasure talking to you!”

SCM: “Do you know that you have some bad files on your computer?”

Me: “I don’t have a computer—but please don’t let that stop you from talking to me. I have this really big problem with my wife—I think she keeps ignoring me— and I need to talk to someone, and you seem like such a nice person!”

SCM: “I think I will hang up now.”

SCM” “Oh, please don’t hang up! Won’t you help me? I really need someone to talk to! Please, please continue to talk to me!

SCM: <click>

Me: (to myself) I think I just ruined a sociopath’s day!

“Compassionate people need to know there are everyday people who take pleasure in hurting others.”  —P.A. Speers