Category Archives: Disaster

Donkey Blockade: Operation Teensy Vittles

The Lawn Mower salesman had just passed through the front gate of the Laboratory.  He looked up and saw something in the distance.  He drove slowly toward the obstacle and stared hard at the thing in the road.

“What the devil is that?” he mumbled to himself.

He slowed down further.  “Maybe if I drive slow, it will get out of the road.” he said to no one in particular.

The car slowed to a crawl, until he was almost upon the mysterious object. Then, he slammed on the brakes and whispered in a panic, “What is it?”

He quickly put the car in reverse and drove back to the gate.  At the gate, he rolled down the window and picked up the handset of the conveniently located phone.

Chapter 1

The Whistler set down his shovel, looked at his watch and sighed.  The Lawn Mower representative was late to their meeting.  The Whistler had been waiting, rather enthusiastically, to hear about all the latest, wondrous technologies in lawn mowing, such as; robotic GPS controlled mowers, biodiesel mowers, solar powered mowers,  and the advancement of hydrogen fuel cell technologies.

 

The  phone rang.  The Whistler picked up the handset and said, “Hello, This is Super Fun Adventure Quest Time Laboratories,  how may I direct your call?”. He paused and said, “I see.  You are running late for our meeting because the road is full of … what?”

A look of disbelief crossed his face as he said, “Excuse me.  Will you repeat that?  Did you say that you are trapped on the road because of donkeys… A donkey blockade, you say?”

donkey_road_block_sign001e

 

With a quizzical look, he asked, “How many donkeys are involved?… Two?… and you say that they’re tiny but quite threatening?  And that they have surrounded the car and are hitting it with their little noses…  Oh!  And loudly braying while shaking their heads in a menacing manner?  One moment, please.”

He put the phone to his chest and hollered “Einida, you have a donkey emergency to attend to…”

He lifted the handset and said, “Sir, I’ve alerted the appropriate authorities and someone should be there shortly to escort you safely to the Laboratory’s garden house.  Good-bye.”

Enida slid through the doorway, as she failed to stop her momentous sprint.  “Emergency?  What’s happened?  Are Subject 001 and Subject 002 ok?” She panted.

The Whistler, was not only a holistic landscaper, but was also well versed in the arts of animal husbandry.  His donkey handling advice had been ignored and he was looking forward to this “I told you so” moment.

He smiled mischieviously and said, “I’m sure you remember when I  mentioned to you and Dr. Phil that one should never, ever, ever feed any sort of animal from the window of a car?”

She nodded cautiously, “Um, I seem to remember something about that.  But I only do it when it’s raining and my umbrella is in the trunk.  Or when it’s really hot.  Or sometimes, I might feed them from the van, if I’m in a hurry… but I hardly do it at all.  Why?  What does this have to do with the donkey emergency?”

The Whistler shook his head and said, “Well, apparently Dr. Phil has been feeding them on a regular basis from the window of his truck.  And do you know what happens to animals that are given food with a stimulus event?  Like, perhaps, giving a donkey an apple during which time a very specific sound is made?”

She gasped and clasped her hand over her mouth, “Classical conditioning? For the love of Pavlov,  Oh no!”

“Instead of making dogs hungry at the sound of bells, as in  Pavlov’s respondent stimulus experiments…” he began his lecture.

Einida’s eyes widened as she realized the magnitude of his words.  She whispered in dismay, “I’ve created donkeys that are conditioned to respond to the sights and sound of automobiles… Oh my!  This can’t end well for anyone.”

Chapter 2

Einida grabbed some tools and left the building. She was on a mission to break the donkey  blockade.

When the donkeys saw Einida, they brayed loudly and shook their heads.

Einida stood in front of the donkeys, who were blocking the vehicle, and said with a stern tone, “Move.  Get going.  You will get no apples today.”  She waved her arms in the air menacingly.

 The Lawn Mower Salesman, quickly put his car in reverse.

 “No.  Sir, not you… you stay here… donkeys leave. “ Einida sait to the surprised man.  She then turned and yelled, “ Get a move on, donkeys!”

The donkeys gazed at her calmly.

“Heeyaw!!  Gitty up.. Hoowah… ” Einda was hopping about while making noises.

She then leaned over and pushed Subject 001 on his flank.  “Move it or lose it.” She said hopefully.

The donkey leaned back, determined not to be pushed around.

Dr. Phil walked up and snickered. Einida was hot, surly and still trying to move the donkeys by physically pushing them off the road.

Einida rubbed her brow in frustration and said “These donkeys are impossible. I can’t believe how stubborn they are!  I always thought that the phrase ‘Being stubborn as an ass…”

“Asset!” shouted Dr. Phil triumphantly.  “I’ve always said that people need to be more stubborn, if they want to be successful.  Do not let other people tell you what to do.  Seek your destiny and sally forth!  Let it never be said that I didn’t do things my way.”

As if on cue, Viktor walked up to the group and said, “Oh, yes.  We have a saying about Dr. Phil’s way.  That there’s the right way, the wrong way and Philips’s way…  which is the wrong way, but twice as fast.”

Dr. Phil said, “And then there’s The Whistler’s way, which is the right way done twice as slow and with a painstakingly comprehensive level of detail.”

“Does anyone have an apple?  I don’t think I can get this blockade removed without one.” Einda said while searching her pockets.

 Viktor studied the donkey blockade and said, “When thinking of famous blockades, I would consider the Ottomans blockade in 1394 at Constantinople,  the great WWI British blockade of X, and of course, the blockade of Marc Antony’s fleet in Actium to be the greatest blockades.  We shall not allow this blockade to escalate to those levels.”

Viktor stroked his goatee and said, “There’s got to be a scientific solution to this conundrum.  We’ve got to be smarter than the donkeys…”

“Hey, where are you going?  Aren’t you going to break the blockade?  I’ve been here for quite awhile.” said the Lawn Mower Salesman uncertainly.


“Be patient.  It is only a matter of time before the solution presents itself.” said Viktor calmly.

 

Being fed apples from the van.
Being fed apples from the van.

Chapter 3

Viktor, Einida and The Whistler were at the stables, trying to find inspiration for the problem at hand.

“I have a brilliant idea!  What if I start feeding the donkeys food from the vehicle that they DON’T like?  Then, they’ll associate cars with unpleasant tastes.  Hee-hee.” said Einda gleefully.

“What could possibly go wrong?” asked The Whistler innocently.

“I wonder what donkeys don’t like eating?” said Einida, while thinking about animal inappropriate foods such as caviar and sardines.

Viktor said, “That sounds like a metric that needs to be plotted through careful trial and error.”

“And be sure to stick to unappetizing vegetables, as equines are vegetarian.” continued Viktor.

Enida, no longer deep in thought, said, “Ooh!  I know that broccoli and cabbage are generally hated by human standards.  I should try one of those.”

“Whoa!  Don’t do that.  Broccoli and cabbage are cruciferous vegetables and are known to cause flatulence in horses.  And I believe that experiencing an episode of donkey flatulence is probably, actually, literally the last thing we need around here.” said Viktor with a stern look.

Everyone paused for a moment to consider that scenario.  And then they started snickering.  “Donkey poots…poot poot… tee-hee.”

The Whistler began to verbally demonstrate what he thought the flatulence from a miniature donkey would sound like.  He waved his arms to indicate billowing clouds of gas, while making enthusiastically obscene, high pitched noises.  He then pantomimed donkeys being made airborne by their high pressured flatulence.

He finally stopped when he noticed that Einida was rolling on the ground in a gale of laughter.  Viktor, slightly more composed, was chortling with glee while holding on to his shaking ribs.

“So, no kale, brussel sprouts, rhubarb or Bok Choy, either?” said Einida with a stray giggle as she stood up and began to shake the dust off her lab coat.

The Whistler said, “Those vegetables are bad for horses as well.  And they can’t tolerate avocados, tomatoes, onions, potatoes  and persimmons  Start thinking about fruits.  Horses love fruits…”

Viktor put his finger and the air and said, “Fruit!  All this talk of food has left me feeling peckish.  it’s time for a snack-ra-fice.”

And so, the trio walked off toward the Laboratory, anxious for snacks.

They were surprised by the honk of a car.  The Lawn Mower Salesman was yelling something through his window.

 

He rolled down the window, waved a bag of apples around and said, “It took me hours to drive all the way back into to town to get apples.  The donkeys loved them.  They let me pass, once I paid the toll.”

 

Viktor furrowed his brow and sighed, “Ah, yes.  The donkey’s Pavolvian response was strongly reinforced.  We’re going to have to work extra hard to break them of this pattern.”

 

“Are you ready to talk about lawn mowers?  What can I do to get you into a …” the Lawn Mower Salesman stopped his manic sales pitch when he saw the faraway look in Viktor’s eyes.

 

“Don’t mind him… “ said The Whistler as he pushed passed Viktor, “I am more than ready to discuss the merits and demerits of reel mowers, rotary mowers, robot mowers, solar mowers, push mowers, lawn tractors and my favorite… mulching modes!”  He clapped his hands in delight.

 

Einida turned to Viktor and said, “Let’s go eat.  We’ll never solve this dilemma on an empty stomach.”

 

“Indeed.” he replied while still deep in thought.

 

“Would you like a watermelon?  I bought one when I got apples…” offered the Lawn Mower salesman.

Einida grabbed the watermelon and they walked toward the Laboratory.

Chapter 4

Einida shrieked, dropped the watermelon she was holding, and ran towards the utility vehicle.  The donkeys were braying loudly and shaking their heads vigorously.  Normally, she was pleased by the donkeys, when they exhibited this behavior, as it meant that they were glad to see her.

Today, however, it occurred after she fed them some watermelon.  The donkeys became ecstatic and began drooling half-chewed bits of watermelon.  Then, when they vigorously shook their tiny heads, that same stream of drool and watermelon spewed everywhere.

“I’ve got to have an umbrella!” Einida shouted at The Whistler, who was laughing uproariously from the front seat of the van.  His meeting with The Lawn Mower Salesman had ended abruptly when Einida recruited him for this latest mission.  He correctly anticipated the mission would be highly amusing to watch.

The Whistler handed her an umbrella through the window and said with a smirk, “So, they like watermelon, do they?”

Einida put the umbrella under her arm.  Then, with the sleeve of her red splashed lab coat, she wiped off her clipboard. She made a note that watermelon would not be an effective donkey deterrent.

“Look out! Here they come.” The Whistler warned as he quickly rolled up the window.

Einida heard the stampede of tiny hooves and felt the warm drops of donkey drool hit her legs.  The donkeys were frolicking with the piece of watermelon she dropped and wanted to show their appreciation by getting as close to Einida as possible.  Subject 001 licked the clipboard.  Einida quickly put up her umbrella, jumped on the running board of the van, pounded the roof and yelled, “Drive!  Drive!”

 

Chapter 5

Einida was in the break room listlessly stirring her soup.  Her earlier lunch break had been interrupted by the idea that donkeys wouldn’t like watermelon.

“It seems hopeless.  These darned donkeys seem to like everything.  They are so… adamantly agreeable!” said Einida through gritted teeth.

Dr. Phil scratched his head and said, “Horse feathers!  Never give up… never surrender… horseradish!  Try feeding them horseradish.”  His stream of consciousness solution surprised him. Nonetheless, he waved his spoon in triumph.

“Why would you suggest a food that shares a name with the genus of the animal you’re trying to manipulate?” asked Viktor dryly.

“Obviously, it was named as such because horses love it!” declared Dr. Phil.

Viktor said, “But we’re not trying to find things that horses love to eat.  We’re looking for the exact opposite of…”  Viktor’s indignant rant was interrupted.

Einida said, “Actually, no one quite knows the etymology of the name horseradish.  It has been highly valued as a spice throughout history.  The Oracle at Delphi once thought that it was worth it’s weight in gold.  In the Middle Ages, it was actually used medicinally for…”

Viktor interrupted with a cough and said, “Poison!  It’s poisonous to horses…”

Einidia interrupted his interruption and said loudly, “Medicine!  It’s used to treat dandruff and sinusitis.  Speaking of medicine, this celery soup doesn’t taste nearly as good as I had hoped.  It tastes like warm celery water.”

Viktor folded his arms and said peevishly, “Have you not read my treatise on the souponification of soup?  Making soup is an art form, much like the saponification process when making soap.  One must gradually heat vegetables, patiently wait…” He paused and looked at her soup.

Then, he sighed and shook his head. “Am I looking at a bowl of warm water that is full of celery sticks?  That’s not soup!  That’s a culinary outrage!  That is to soup, what American cheese is to…” he stopped ranting and and gazed thoughtfully at the refrigerator.

“Celery!” he suddenly shouted enthusiastically, “Celery!  Have you tried feeding them celery?”

Einida dropped her spoon and looked at her clipboard.  She quickly searched the list of fruits and vegetables that were donkey approved.

“No!  They have not been exposed to celery.  Celery might actually work.  It’s one of those nutritionally mysterious vegetables that change how medicine gets processed in the human body.  I bet the donkeys will hate it!  I must get a test started right away.” said Einida jumping up from her celery water.

 

Chapter 6

Einida gently held out her hand.  A stalk of celery lay across her palm.  The donkey, Subject 001, softly grabbed the celery with his mouth and began nibbling.

If a donkey could grimace, then Subject 001 would have.  The celery fell to the ground with a light thud.  Subject 001 looked at Einida with a baleful glare.  It was the first time the donkey’s tastebuds had ever tasted something so woefully unpleasant.  Subject 001’s ears turned backward to communicate his substantial anger.

The Whistler, whose hobby was horse whispering, said, “Ooh wee!  That is one angry equine.  You’d better give him a palate cleanser.”

“That would defeat the purpose of this experiment.  I don’t want them to associate blockades with celery followed by apples.  They must learn that they shall only get celery when they blockade.”  She then circled the word “celery” on her clipboard.

Einida was ecstatic. She leaned over and cooed to the tiny donkey “Little buddy , you’re going to learn that cars mean celery, which means the opposite of apples.”  She straightened up and with dramatic flourish said, “I declare that’ The Great Donkey Blockade disaster’ has finally been defeated.”

The Whistler, who was sitting in the van,  smiled, nodded slowly  and said, “I’m sure it has.”

The donkeys began to stalk towards Einida.  Their ears were flattened and they marched forward menacingly with their tiny mouths chomping at the air.  They looked like an equine version of Pac-Man, eating invisible dots.  [can you think of a better metaphor?]

 Einida backed up and said, “Um… they look angry…”

 They began to trot terrifyingly towards her.

 “Run, Einida, run!  You don’t want those donkeys to acquire a taste for human flesh…” yelled the Whistler.

 But it was a needless warning, for Einida was already fleeing the rampaging donkeys.

 Once again, Einida was trying to escape the equines.  She stuffed her clipboard under her arm, jumped on the running board of the van, and yelled, “Drive!  Drive!”

 

Chapter 7

Weeks passed without a single blockade.

 The donkeys quickly learned that the Laboratory vehicles only carried abhorrent celery.  They quickly lost interest in blockades and went back to doing whatever it is they do.

Then, one day the radio crackled.

“Einida, there’s a coil winding vendor stuck at the gate.  Those min-donks are up to their old tricks again.  They’ve got a blockade in place and are terrorizing that poor lady salesperson. ”

Einida grabbed the keys to the van and grumbled, “Why? Why?  Why?  Why now?  This is impossible.”

Viktor stroked his goatee thoughtfully and said, “I believe that when the Lawn Mower salesman fed the donkeys apples, he taught them a new trick.  The donkeys have learned to differentiate between the staff vehicles and vehicles that they’ve never seen.  What a sophisticated level of mental processing that this turn of events indicates.  It shows a level of…”

“Bah!  Sophisticated… How am I going to solve this behavioural wrinkle?” Einida said gloomily, while stomping out the door with a bag of celery.

Shouting after her, Viktor said, “So, then you won’t mind if I update your job description to permanently include the escorting of newcomers through donkey blockades?  Oh, and I’ll need your report on ‘Donkey Blockades and Roadpower Strategies and Counter-Strategies’ on my desk by tomorrow. ”

The Whistler shouted, “If you feel like feeding the min-donks, be sure to get out of the car and walk to them…even if its raining!

The Whistler smiled and said to Viktor, “Well, at least the donkeys taught Einida and Dr. Phil to not take weather-related shortcuts in experimental protocol during active trials.”

 

“Indeed.” replied Viktor.

THE END

donkey_road_block_sign001d

How many mechanics does it take to change a light bulb?

Artist's interpretation of what a headlight might look like

A kind local flagged us down. He said, “Yer headlight’s out. ‘Round here, that’ll git ye ‘rested. You’d best git it repaired.”

He spoke with a gravitas that one would not expect to find in a grizzled rustic, and that is how Viktor and I ended up in the “Eternal Waiting Room.” You know the place. You’ve been there before. The location changes, but the details do not: a drab, bare space with blinding fluorescent lights, a scattering of magazines dated two Presidential administrations back, stale, bitter coffee, asinine blabbering and monkeyshines blasting from the television, the restrooms a vision of Hell not even the pen of Dante could accurately capture, and chrome and vinyl chairs so fiendishly uncomfortable that they would no doubt elicit a thin smile from the grim lips of Torquemada.

The car was in the repair bay, and I had such high hopes. It shouldn’t take long at all for a professional mechanic to do something as simple as replacing a headlight. Such a procedure is no doubt as easy as typing a shoelace to his trained hands. I wasn’t going to do it myself, since the last time I tried I smashed my hand within the bulb’s damnably cramped housing. There is a time and a place for DIY, and that time was not now. Sometimes, things are best left to specialists.

Time passed. The procedure had started with one mechanic, but presently he sought the aid of others of his kind. With every oily brow that creased, with every pair of dirty hands thrown up into the air in despair, with every newer and larger regrouping of mechanics, I imagined I heard the chiming of an old-fashioned cash register, as my time was being wasted and the bill was growing ever larger.

More time passed. Viktor and I were in the middle of an expedition when this automotive interruption took place, and this setback was costing us valuable research time.

I think it was when the football-player-turned-chat-show-host had finished demonstrating his “can’t miss” recipe for jerk chicken on the dusty TV perched on a narrow corner shelf that my patience reached its natural end, and I approached the garage manager: “Sir, if you can’t change the headlight, please return my keys, so I can take my car to the dealership, where they have experts knowledgeable about this process.”

The manager responded, “Well, we did replace/one/ of the headlights, only it was the wrong one. And we’ve had to take out a bunch of parts from the engine, to try to access the space where the headlight is, but it don’t seem to matter. It may take some time to put your car back together.”

I gritted my teeth, pursed my lips, and shot Viktor a sour look that told him we must expect an even longer wait.

And so, since we are scientists, inventors, and explorers, when life gives us lemons, we dive in, and engage in an exhaustive study of the properties of lemons, their nutritional aspects, and how to improve the current methods of their cultivation and usage.A Liemon?

The collection of data is for us second-nature.

Data collected from this experience:

Q) Number of mechanics needed to change a headlight?

A) Zero! Even though five different mechanics attempted this procedure, they all failed.

Q) Number of hours spent watching trained mechanics failing in their attempts to change a light bulb?

A) Two.

Such unpleasantries are often unavoidable on our adventures, but when I was able to distance myself from this fiasco, to observe it all in a
disinterested, scientific manner, it was truly amazing to watch so many professionals befuddled by something so seemingly simple.

A few days after this, I took the car to the dealership. Here, the repair procedure took all of seven minutes, five of which were devoted to the mechanic walking to the workshop to fetch a certain tool.

And those were a precious few minutes, though sadly they did not afford me adequate time to enjoy a cup of exquisitely-brewed coffee, made available by the specially-trained baristas that occupied a corner of the mechanic shop’s waiting room.

Delicious bank money, made from tearsAs a coffee aficionado, I know where to get get all manner of java. Coffee is everywhere now–restaurants, local and chain coffeehouses, convenience stores and gas stations, bookstores, and even hotel lobbies.

But did you know where to find the world’s most expensive coffee? It’s at your local bank. Most banks offer “free” coffee along with a small tray of cookies or mints. But it’s not exactly free, at least not the way I see it. I cannot enjoy bank coffee without thinking that I paid for it somewhere along the line with all those pointless and exorbitant fees the bank sees fit to charge me.

And the drinking of bank coffee is not without its hazards. The bank never provides a lid for the coffee and so, quite often I’ve found myself driving with one hand, while clumsily bringing the open cup to my lips, trying to gulp the beverage down before it sloshes over and scalds my hand or spills over my clothing.

While I was sipping my coffee at the car dealership, getting my headlight replaced, I noticed a pickup truck in an adjoining bay with a bumper-sticker that exhorted, “Freedom Ain’t Free.” And while I realize that the bumper-sticker was a commentary on the matter of national defense, I reflected instead that sometimes “free” services can be used as a dodge, a financial shell game, a diversion of the buyer’s attention from shoddy service.

Caveat emptor.

*Yes, I know that is a picture of a lime, but when life gives you limes instead of lemons… you take photos of limes.

The Tale of the Beekeeper and the Huntsman

Suns shield towel
A towel was taped to the windshield to cut the blinding glare of the unseasonably hot January sun. Viktor sat in the shade of the towel and ran data sets on his computer. The experiment was at a critical phase. I chewed my lip nervously as I pondered my dilemma–what to do about the many bees that were trapped in the car trunk.

Earlier in the day, I had noticed one curious bee exploring the open trunk. I was unconcerned, as the trunk offered nothing to interest a bee. It was full of the tools of industry–rubber gloves, wrenches, bolt cutters, an absurdly large pipe wrench four feet in length….

 

In due course, I noticed that my little buzzing friend was no longer alone. Four bees turned into eight bees, and when that number increased yet again, I closed the trunk feeling a mixture of mild panic and triumphant cleverness.

As I retired to the car’s cold, dark interior, I suddenly remembered why the trunk would be such a lure, namely, “The Great Margarita Trunk Disaster of 2012.” That was an incident which ended with bees and about which my barrister advised me not to speak publicly.

For a time I nursed a quiet sense of unease. This eventually gave way to a vague feeling of horror. I realized that the bees would be annoyed by their confinement. Annoyance would turn to anger. But if I freed them, how would they react? Would they attack, swarm, ruin our experiment, or simply fly away? Why, oh, why in college had I been so foolish as to sleep through apiculture class?

Bee_Trapper

There was a time when Viktor and I tried to capture a bee in a soda can. This was to prove a theory that a bee could create auditory hallucinations within a metal can. It was an unsuccessful experiment. The bee was too wily to be thus lured.  Of course, we didn’t have this propitious device that, though it claims to keep insects out of cans, it could also be used to keep bees inside cans.

Close_up

Suddenly, I remembered the wisdom of the Countess de Vita, a former beekeeper, who once told me, “Always think in circles, shapes with soft curves, whenever you find yourself near a bee.”

The Countess de Vita explained to me that bees are very attuned to human thoughts. Circles are calming for bees, apparently.

Bees_and_Circles

“Can the power of thoughts have an effect on bees? What thoughts might upset to them? Straight lines? Jagged circles? Could I make a bee sleepy by thinking in waves?” So many ideas for experiments raced through my head.

But another thought interrupted.”What if the Countess told me a tall tale?” Sadly, I am afflicted by a startling inability to recognize sarcasm, and have fallen victim to tall tales before.

Indeed, just the night before, we had dined with The Huntsman. He had taught us about how to capture a falcon, should the need ever arise.

How to Capture a Falcon:

1. –Place a mouse into a trap made of string. The falcon will swoop down and his claws will become entangled in the trap.

2.–Calmly walk over and pick the falcon up and place a small hood over his head.)

The Huntsman went on to say that falcons never developed any evolutionary strategies to defend themselves against capture, and as such, can easily be overwhelmed and rendered completely docile.

I was amazed by this story until Viktor mentioned that it might be a set-up for a prank. He suggested that The Huntsman might have wanted to see if we were gullible enough to attempt to trap a bird of prey, only to be reduced shortly thereafter to a shredded pile of pain.

The Huntsman does have an odd sense of humor.

“Einida, the pipe wrench in the trunk–I must have it!,” Viktor declared.

The time had come to face my yellow-and-black demons. I was about to discover whether or not the Countess had spoken the truth.

As I yanked upon the lever that opens the trunk, I concentrated on images of circles. I got out of the car, and, taking a wide path and a slow stride, made my very indirect way to the trunk, giving the bees ample time to fly far, far away. I cautiously opened the trunk still further as I muttered, “Soft shapes…circles…curves…,” and my muscles tensed up, readying me to flee the scene….

The bees were gone.
I hastily grabbed at the pipe wrench and dashed back to the safety of the car.

A_Very_Large_Pipewrench

Had the bees returned to the hive for reinforcements? I decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and that I would be no good to science with bee stingers embedded in my flesh. I resolved to stay in the car for the remainder of the experiment. While my scientific curiosity is broad and wide, and could one day include research into whether or not human thought patterns affect bees, it ends well north of testing the capacity of bees for violent retribution.

Caught in a Supermarket Avalanche

It started slowly, as the most horrific incidents in life so often do.

My mind would not accept what my eyes were seeing, but before this cognitive dilemma could be resolved, events snowballed into chaos.

Einida threw her body against the glass freezer door in an heroic attempt to check the violent collapse.

Frozen pizzas were shooting out rapid-fire like so many playing cards from the hand of a veteran croupier.

The four-cheese pizzas tipped forward and knocked the thin crust pepperoni pizzas against the vegetarian pizzas. One column collapsed against the next, and all were momentarily held in check by Einida, the human wedge.

With stealthy step, she slowly backed away from the door to see if the avalanche had stopped. The pizzas were perfectly balanced in a jagged heap. The DiGiornos™ supported the Totinos™ and vice versa…but only barely.

The pizza trap waiting to be sprung.

It occurred to me that we were in over our heads, that we might best leave the matter to store employees who were more experienced in the handling the vicissitudes of food storage and display.

I recalled the occasion when Einida and I openly stared and giggled at a lady in the produce department of that very store who had not completely detached her vegetable bag from its fellows on the metal spindle, with the result that as she wandered about the store, she dragged behind her a line of still-attached vegetable bags, stretched taut, to the amusement and amazement of the other shoppers. She continued for a not-inconsiderable distance before someone pointed out her dilemma.

This amusing scene was playing across the screen of my memory when I was suddenly jolted–by what force I have no idea–back into the present. I called, “Einida, we must disable this trap before some unsuspecting shopper comes along, opens the door, and is buried under an undignified mountain of frozen dough and tomato sauce.”

And so, as she leaned back against the door, I reached in from an adjoining freezer bay. I gingerly moved some of the topmost pizzas from the heap, in an attempt to lessen the pressure of the stacks of pizzas pushing against the door. It was rather like playing a game of Pick-Up Sticks, but with pizzas.

(Again, my mind digressed, as I contemplated the development of a new version of that beloved childhood game….)

The pizzas began to shift.

Einida urged, “Viktor, hurry! I can’t hold the pizzas back much longer!”

Blame for this disaster rests solely upon the shoulders of the grocers who insist on stacking plastic-wrapped pizzas, on their tiny edge. Such a configuration in inherently unstable.

I had apparently triggered the trap while searching for the freshest DiGiorno™ four-cheese pizza.

At any rate, I finally removed the last pizza from this Mountain of Woe, and stacked it with its brothers horizontally, in a thumbing of the nose to the careless grocer, in hopes that he might at least dimly perceive the danger to which he had exposed his customers through his arrogant attempts to defy the basic laws of engineering.

How to locate the freshest frozen pizza:

1. Examine the plastic seal. If the plastic is tight and conforms to the ridges of the face of the pizza, and looks vacuum-packed, it is fresh.

2. Avoid pizzas that have a loose plastic seal.

This seal is loose.  Avoid selecting this sub par pie.
This seal is loose. Avoid selecting this sub par pie.