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Foot in mouth

by Jane Stebbins

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s not to mess with Summit County pet owners.

If you so much as hint that you might be interested in trapping a feral cat that threatens your family each time you try to leave your house, you will receive thousands of angry e-mails, letters, phone calls, telegrams and the occasional actual in-the-flesh personal appearance from people who disagree with you.

If you say you’re going to declaw your cat, you will have other equally angry people telling you how your cat’s dignity now is in tatters, even if your couch isn’t.

If you tell them to pick up what Rover left on your lawn, they smack you with harassment charges.

I should have kept that in mind when I wrote last week’s column about universal health care coverage for pets. I ranted, I raved, I screamed, after hearing a National Public Radio show about the proposal. How could they do this, when there are hungry, homeless and sick people on the streets of our great country?! Well, maybe not in Breckenridge, but they’re in … Georgetown!

I got the phone calls. The e-mails. The telegrams and the letters.

“You had better not be ranting, raving and screaming about Title 17, which offers subsidies to pets with furballs!” one lady said.

“I think you’re talking about a tax check-off box in which your donation contributes to a spay/neuter program,” wrote another.

“You been had, girl,” said a man from the snowcat crew at the Breckenridge Ski Resort.

Huh?

Well, it seems they have a little more time on their hands than me, and spend it listening to NPR. I can only afford to listen to NPR on my short jaunt to work, therefore, they told me, I didn’t get The Rest of the Story.

It was a joke, the universal health care coverage for pets. An April Fool’s Joke. And I bought it, hook, line and sinker. My co-workers thought it was particularly funny, because they erroneously believe I was the one laughing the loudest when we received scores of complaints from people on April Fool’s Day about our newspaper’s mock cover. You know the one: 2008 Olympics coming to Summit, Ski areas calling it quits, Breck patrol to donate raises to strip joint. Oh, wait! That last one might be true!

And then I up and put my own size 10 in my mouth.

The last time I was the victim of a practical joke was in 1997, when I was complaining about men and how they don’t know what to get their girlfriends/wives/pets for some holiday or another. I said, jeez. All I wanted was an oil change. And I thought no more about it.

But my coworkers did. They contacted my husband, who called a mobile oil-change company whose unsuspecting employee came to our company parking lot.

“Hey, Jane,” a coworker said. “Someone’s messing with your car.”

I look out the window and sure enough, some guy’s opening the door, messing under the dash, popping the hood – “Hey!” I yelled, marching out in the parking lot, my arms swinging like I Mean Business. “Hey! Hello? Excuse me – that’s my car!”

“I’m here to change your oil,” the man said, his hands up in the air.

It took a moment for it to register. I apologized and turned around – to laughs and clicking cameras.

I’d done been had.

Then there was the time my mother fooled us kids into what she said was going to be a vacation in Seattle. It ended up being a house-hunting trip, and so we – teenagers all – rebelled by refusing to look at houses with her and sitting in the car instead.

“Hey, there’s this challenge on the radio,” my brother said. “If your hand is as big as your face, you can win $1,000.”

“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” I said, as only the eldest child can. And I placed my hand on my face, reaching fingertips to the edges of my hairline, the sole of my hand to my chin. My brother smacked my hand, giving me a bloody nose that resulted in a fist fight that rolled out onto the sidewalk in front of my mother and her realtor, who instantly decided she didn’t want to show houses to my family anymore.

I’d been had.

And I’ve been had again – by a reputable radio show!

I might just hit them up for a vet bill I have due.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.


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