Communication as an art form

Mad about town
By Carolyn Marsh | Sep 18, 2009


I had no idea how to get a skunk out of a trap, so I improvised. First I put on my foul-weather gear, which covered me from head to ankle, and next my red rubber boots.

The quote of the week

One of the biggest complaints by homeowners has been poor communication by mortgage servicers on the status of their applications for loan modifications. In the case of Mrs. Giguere, Wells Fargo decided back in March shortly after she faxed the bank her application that she did not qualify for the Home Affordable Modification Program.

She did not learn of the bank’s decision until Thursday [Sept. 3].

“When did you tell the debtors that their loan was no longer being considered for modification?” Judge Haines asked Mr. Ohayon.

“We haven’t. They’ve never been told,” said Mr. Ohayon, adding: “Customer communication is something we’re taking a serious look at, your honor.”

Transfer-station story of the week

The woman who pulled up to the compactors in her big SUV and parked right in the middle of the concrete slab — no leeway to right or left or front or back — and proceeded to get out, open the back of the behemoth and start stuffing her trash into yellow bags.

Generally speaking, my feeling about religion is, wait and see. I try not to let murderous impulses get the better of me (successfully, to date, though there have been some close calls). I’m nice to people who deserve it, and even some who don’t. And I have a hard time being blunt (OK: “rude”). That’s why the first time the Seventh-day Adventist missionaries came by my house when I was outside weeding, I stopped what I was doing and listened to their pitch. I took the literature they offered me (as soon as I’d ascertained I didn’t have to pay for it) and said, Yes, of course, I’ll look at it and be ready to talk about it the next time.

By their next visit, which also caught me outside, I’d recovered a little of my natural aggression and dared to challenge some of the beliefs they espoused (my favorite response is “God turned His back on us long ago,” but note that capital “H,” just in case, as Pascal said).

I honestly thought I’d been pretty effectively off-putting, but a few days ago, when I was sitting at my desk in my office at home, I saw their car pull into the driveway. Curtains at one window and plantings outside the other give me almost complete privacy, but it occurred to me that perhaps the curtains would become transparent when they looked through them, so I slid off my chair and crouched under my desk.

They rang the doorbell several times — well, why not? I’d just gotten home, my car was parked in the driveway and the hood was still warm!

Also, of course, the garage door was open, and just inside is a door that leads directly into the house. There was no way they could miss it, and I wasn’t too sure their zeal wouldn’t overcome their good manners, so I crept out from under the desk, scuttled into the hall and nipped into the coat closet. I couldn’t hear anything at all from there, so I counted to 50 and then emerged, really quietly.

Of course they were long gone — I’m sure they hadn’t considered just coming in through the garage door, but I wondered too if, seeing my car (and feeling the hood, as I would have done in their place), they might not have thought I’d drowned in the shower or fallen down the stairs or just expired — and I thought it was just as well they weren’t good Samaritans as well as Adventists.

I was online looking for a live-cam pickup of something or other (I can no longer remember what it was, and probably wouldn’t have within 45 seconds of being there), when I found myself in downtown Presque Isle. Surely I am mistaken, I thought, but no, it was indeed downtown PI. When nothing passed in front of the camera for more than a minute I bade the place a not-so-reluctant goodbye and moved on to some other place I can’t remember either.

I thought I’d bamboozled the skunk that was eating the cat food I’d left out for my little wildcat, Tina, who has now been on the loose for several weeks. She actually came to the top of the porch steps the other day but it was simply to signal for her buddy Kiwi to come out and play, which she did.

I shut everything down for a week and then moved the trap to the garage, where I know Tina hangs out. Went through the whole routine but this time I set the trap much earlier in the process.

One midnight I decided I’d see what was going on, so I got out of bed, put on my robe and came downstairs. I knew as soon as I opened the door into the garage that something was amiss. I could hear the plastic food bowl being pushed around, and Tina is not big enough to do that. Sure enough, as I approached the trap on little cat feet, there was a skunk inside. He’d pushed the food bowl over the whatever-it-is that springs the trap, and he was caught. He seemed fine — finished his din, roamed around the cage for a little bit and then curled up in a corner and went to sleep.

I had no idea how to get a skunk out of a trap, so I improvised. First I put on my foul-weather gear, which covered me from head to ankle, and next my red rubber boots. Then I tied a towel over my mouth and nose, and thus arrayed, walked quietly (well, as quietly as you can walk swathed in yards of rustling waterproof material and big boots) over to where Skunk apparently slept. He didn’t move a muscle as I carefully opened and latched the trap door.

I withdrew, undressed and went back to bed, where I hadn’t been for more than three seconds when I realized all I had done was reset the trap. So it was out of bed and down the stairs and back into my battle dress. This time I just shoved a bucket under the trap door so it couldn’t close and repaired once more to my couch. In the morning, Skunk was gone, though he did leave a big pile of scat just to show me he could.

I had, however, taken a picture of him as he snoozed. He looks sweet, really. Nice kitty.
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