You don't have to go to Kolkata to experience life and drama.
Tonight, and for the first time in 15 years of living up in the country, I got my first Emergency Call From The Washington County Department of Public Safety. Like most people, I rarely use the landline anymore or even hear it ring.
But my ears perked up when phone rang tonight, even though it was in the other room. "Please don't hang up," said a voice, "this is an important call from the Washington County Department of Safety." There was a pause and I was listening, ears up just like the donkeys. I did not hang up, and would not.
I admit, I was expecting a report of an escaped convict in our neighborhood, or a request to be on the lookout for some of those bad dudes I've been hearing about creeping into the country, maybe even some awful crime, just about unheard of in these parts.
I was taking note of where my rifle was, and how I could keep the dogs and animals safe. Whatever this is, I thought, Maria would hate to miss it. India probably had nothing like this.
The warning – it was a recording – said that law enforcement personnel were out by the County Barn on Route 78, confronting and now search for an "agitated mole," who got "vicious when approached."I wasn't sure I heard right, I wasn't expecting to hear about a mole, they are the most invisible and shy of creatures.
But this was exciting, the first such alert I have heard in more than a decade, and at that rate, the last one I might hear in my life.
I'm not making light of it, this mole was obviously sick, perhaps rabid. Still, I couldn't help smiling, the officer sounded quite grave. He said Law Enforcement Personnel were on the scene.
I thought of the National Security Council in Washington, you may have heard of it, gathering to hear this message and pondering the government's options. They are the ones who worry about us and protect us.
Okay, okay, I'm sorry, I am perhaps making light of it. I shouldn't.
If you see the mole, said the recording, do not approach it, said the officer, it might be dangerous. And he warned again that the mole was "very agitated." Call 911 immediately. As I heard this, a bunch of police cars came by, blue lights flashing, and heading towards the direction of the County Barn.
I did pause for a moment and tried to picture what an agitated mole might look like, never having seen one. Perhaps a scowl or snarl.
The County Barn – where the salt and plow trucks are – isn't that close to me, my township is pretty big. But I wasn't taking any chances.
This was a good warning to have, I was about to take the border collies out for their last walk, and I do not want to even think about what might happen if two border collies encountered an agitated mole who had turned out the sheriff's department in force. I doubted that the mole would take to being herded. And as you know, border collies are herding whores, they will herd anything that moves quickly, including agitated sheep.
Fate, thinking the mole is a sheep, might try to chase it, and an agitated mole would not respond well to that.
Fate would not respond well to be chased by the agitated mole either. Red is much too smart to mess with a mole, agitated or calm. He would pretend he didn't see it, he is the Dean Martin of dogs.
Just to be on the safe side, I placed a call to the National Security Council in Washington, it's listed.
I wanted to know if they were aware of the agitated mole and were planning to augment the law enforcement personnel here. I got a recording, a phone tree, listing a dozen different options. Going through the phone tree frightened me, if the agitated mole showed up, I was doomed.
If it was a true emergency, the recording said, I should 911, the very people who called me. Option 2 said the National Security Council was receiving a high number of calls at the moment, could I possibly call back another time?
Hmmmmph. So much for my taxes.
To be sure, I pulled myself together.
I got my rifle, checked to see if it was loaded, put a cell phone in my pocket – I certainly had no intention of approaching a mole in any kind of mood, friendly or not, but I wanted to be ready if he approached me. Or if I had to protect my dogs. I would, of course, step in front and face the mole to save them.
I went outside with Red and Fate and Red stared at me somewhat incredulously, perhaps at the sight of me with my .22 rifle pointed straight down with the safety on, as safety requires. I am very careful with my rifle, it is never pointed at any thing I don't wish to shoot.
Fate got my heart going a bit, she barked and tore off after some shadowy creature, whose tracks revealed it to be a rabbit. She did her business, and I covered them both with my rifle, backing into the porch.
We are all inside safely, and Lulu and Fanny are on guard. They have their rabies shots, and if any creature comes near the pasture, they will be stomped into donkey mush.
I can't wait to tell Maria about this, if she thinks Kolkata is exciting wait until she hears about the agitated mole, and our first phone call ever from the Washington Department of Public Safety.
But the story got even more interesting. A friend called me up when he read the blog, and he said I had misheard the call, although he conceded it was garbled. He said it was a "bull," not a mole. I played it back, and still heard mole, but I am sure he was right. Maybe we do need the National Security Council.
(I know somewhere, someone on Facebook- an outrage addict, maybe – is preparing a nasty comment about this column, fingers already twitching, eager to relay a horrific story about a cat or dog done in by an agitated mole, and denouncing me for not taking this more seriously and for being insensitive to his loss. Our leaders have inspired me to be more insensitive, that is in fashion.)
Life is serious friend, but even when it is, we have to laugh sometimes. We just must.