Yield: Practical Joe Kerr | TheFencePost.com

Yield: Practical Joe Kerr

Practical jokes among or between friends usually make for good, funny stories. I heard one last week that proves that point. It happened decades ago.

The main character in the practical joke wuz ol' Reece Eyekler, a public trash hauler in a rural community who, while picking up refuse on his trash route, kept a sharp eye out for valuables that he could either use or sell.

Reece noticed that people often put out containers of used oil destined for the landfill, and he knew there wuz a market for used oil, so he started putting the used oil he collected on his route into 55-gallon barrels in his backyard behind his garage.

Eventually, Reece ended up with several barrels partially filled with used oil. One day, Reece somehow spilled some of the used oil on the soil. One of his environmentally concerned neighbors saw the spill and reported it to the local representative of the county health department, ol' E. Garr Beaver.

That dedicated public servant promptly investigated the alleged oil spill. I'll add that the public servant and Reece, being from a small community, were acquainted with each other, so the "investigation" was quite cordial.

The public servant told Reece that all he had to do to comply with the local health and environmental laws wuz to, one, build a lean-to roof over the barrels of oil and, two, pour a concrete slab to store the barrels on and make sure the concrete had a gutter around it to contain any spilled oil. Then the public servant explained that if Reece ever did have another oil spill, the oil could be sopped up out of the gutter and properly disposed of.

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All went well and Reece complied with all the suggestions. But, then he made the mistake of telling everything about the oil and the new construction and the public servant to his best friend, ol' Joe Kerr.

Well, Joe thought about what he could do in the way of a practical joke and he finally hit on an idea that seemed perfect. So, a few weeks later Joe ran into the dedicated public servant and casually mentioned that he'd visited Reece in the past few days and they looked at his new construction for storing used oil.

Then, Joe also casually mentioned that Reece had had an oil spill and that the containment gutter had worked perfectly. He said Reece got some dry hay and sopped up every bit of the spilled oil and put the oily hay in a cardboard box.

Then, Joe said as he prepared to leave, Reece asked him if he'd mind throwing the box of oily hay off the bridge and into the river to dispose of it. Joe said he happily complied.

Well, the dedicated public servant got animated and said, "Oh, my gosh. He didn't? You didn't? I'm gonna have to have a serious talk with Reece."

And so it happened. The public servant went to investigate. Reece explained that he had NOT had an oil spill and that he had NOT instructed Joe to throw any oily hay into the river.

By then, Reece knew exactly what had happened and who to blame. So, after the public servant left his place, Reece called Joe and laughed, "That wuz a good one. Now I'm gonna have to figure out how to get even."

•••

Last week I read about one of the sweetest of ironies. It happened in good, ol' California, new home to legal marijuana and old home to thousands of illegal pot plots in the old forest wilderness of northern California. These illegal pot farms were largely operated by professed environmentalists.

Well, it seems that the wilderness mice like to get high, too, because they were nibbling their way through a lot of the pot profits from those illegal plots. So, the growers, in an effort to protect their pot investment, put out poison bait to kill the offending rodents.

That's when the story got interesting. Seems the wildlife protection officials in California found that the endangered Northern Spotted Owl — yep, the very same endangered owl that years ago — thanks to environmentalists' protests — virtually shut down the logging industry in the old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest — were being killed in alarming numbers by eating the mice that were eating the illegal pot.

The story I read didn't say how the situation would be handled, but I had to smile at the angst the pothead environmentalists must be suffering from knowing that they and their beloved illegal pot farms are killing off the endangered Northern Spotted Owl.

The only thing I feel sorry for in this story are the owls.

•••

I've always been a fan of Will Rogers. His public musings seem as appropriate today as they did when he was alive. His museum in Claremore, Okla., is worthy of stopping to see. Here are a few of his tart, insightful sayings:

• Our Constitution protects aliens, drunks and U.S. Senators.

• The taxpayers are sending congressmen on expensive trips abroad. It might be worth it except they keep coming back.

• There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.

• There are men running governments who shouldn't be allowed to play with matches.

• And, finally, this political wisdom: The short memories of American voters is what keep our politicians in office.

Have a good 'un.❖