The Gopher Huntresses: Part 6

Back at the house I explained everything to Mrs. Curmudgeon. “They’re so sweet. Can we keep em?”

“No. We already kicked the cat out. No more pets. You have to let them go.”

“Aww…”

“And no more tractors either.”

Fair nuff. Once that was settled, I returned (with more coffee) and refilled our travel mugs. More chatting at the tailgate. The first question on my mind was “would you ladies like to try a hand at killing gophers on my lawn?”

Except I couldn’t phrase it that way. It just came to me. These were bounty hunters after all; “Whatever you’re getting paid, I can match it.”

And thus, I’d gained helpers for my “lawn”. Before I continue, I should describe my definition of “lawn”. Suburban residents have a mental image of a lawn; a tenth acre, flat, manicured, landscaped, addition to the beauty of a McMansion house. My lawn is exactly unlike that. I’ve been known to shoot and gut deer (legally!) on my lawn.

Wherever the forest is held at bay and the grass short enough that you can see a chicken grazing at 100 yards… that’s a lawn. It makes a nice shooting lane and demilitarized zone. It’s where the chickens graze, the dog shits, and my vehicles slowly give in to entropy.  It’s nothing like a suburban lawn but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Of course, the gophers do their thing and make big huge piles of dirt. When I mow with an antique tractor I don’t care. Unfortunately, I’ve been stuck recently with a regular riding mower (which I hate). The gopher mounds high center my chickenshit lawn tractor with its lawyer approved craptacular “hydrostatic and hope” drivetrain.

So Florence and Jane set up several traps in my lawn (including an area I’d just burned). (The fact that I consider controlled burns a perfectly reasonable landscaping method explains my definition of “lawn”.)

They killed several over the next few days. I wasn’t there when they demobilized their last trap. They just pulled up stakes and split. I owe ‘em about $15 based on three bucks a pop for every dead gopher. I’ll gladly pay up whenever they show up asking for it.

Later that night I kicked back with a glass of bourbon and watched Caddyshack.

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The Gopher Huntresses: Part 5

Florence and Jane loved the coffee. It gave me the excuse I needed to investigate the finer points of gopher killin’. It was a great conversation. (Florence, who’s hearing aid was on the fritz and thus hadn’t responded to my yelling earlier, only caught every third word. This didn’t bother either of us.)

I found the whole thing folksy and quaint. Gopher killin’ for fun and profit reminds me of Tom Sawyer painting a fence. Even the usually dreaded specter of government intervention (the bounty) was OK with me. Instead of the local government pushing around people over the condition of their front lawn or the shade of paint on their garage, my local government has identified an agricultural “enemy” and is leveraging the power of the private sector to make it dead. That’s so old school and primitive it brings a tear of joy to my usually hateful eye.

Sing with me people: God bless America, Land that I love. Kill all the gophers. With traps and a truck!!

The business model, as I understand it, is twofold. The local government pays Florence and Jane so much per head and the local farmer matches that. (Holy crap, a public private partnership that doesn’t piss me off? I didn’t think it was possible.) I think Florence and Jane get about six dollars per gopher when you add up both income streams.

As for equipment, they had a battered F150, a bunch of traps, two hand trowels, some scraps of rebar (which I’d thought of as survey stakes), and very dirty hands. I gathered that their combined forces added up to about 100 traps and (aside from the truck) that was their total capital investment). In case you’re wondering, they indeed knew gopher biology like only professional gopher killers do. They told me all about the nuanced life of their adversary. (Though Florence summed it up nicely: “Actually they’re pretty dumb. We’ll get ‘em all by Tuesday.)

They had locations, counts of traps, and counts of confirmed kills carefully recorded in a dusty notebook. This was mostly to keep from forgetting where the traps were. (They probably are prowling dozens of fields for various farmers.) It seemed like each one had her traps. Presumably if Jane’s trap did the deed, Florence was SOL and vice versa. They were as egalitarian as field roving pirates.

They also had a bucket. A bucket of dead gophers!

They were peaceful ladies. They told me all about their grandkids, how they’d lived in this town forever, and who owned my farm three generations ago. I soaked it all up.

Some of it made me feel a bit melancholy. I’ve done a lot of things and been a lot of places. It changes you. I have no regrets but there is a sweetness to the life on the farm that I’ll never have. They knew more about the history of my backyard than I ever will.

I felt a fleeting bit of sadness for my deliberate and irreversible choices. I left untrod the simpler, more rooted, path that many rural folks take. When I was of age I left my parents (relieved but sad) in a plume of dust. It wasn’t the classiest exit. Nor, when visiting, have I ever again felt comfortable in my hometown. On the hour of my departure I burned a metaphorical bridge. Florence and Jane didn’t.

Florence and Jane belonged right where they were. I’m from everywhere and nowhere. As it always shall be for both of us.

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The Gopher Huntresses: Part 4

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The Gopher Huntresses: Part 3

Gleefully, I scampered to the house to fetch coffee. Inside, Mrs. Curmudgeon showed all signs of having forgotten her husband had been outdoors defending our home. (We really must do more family level zombie drills.)

“Please put on another pot of coffee! We’ve got guests.” I shouted excitedly. (Note: I can make coffee too but her coffee inexplicably tastes better.)

“What? Really.” She glanced about with a defeated look. “The place is a shamble. I don’t want guests.”

“But…” I paused. “Wait a minute; you did know I was out there chasing away trespassers, right?” (We’d been sitting at the same table when I’d seen the approaching truck and tore out of the house like an angry bull.)

“Um… sure.” She nodded vaguely.

Yep. Got it. That’s married life. I could be torn asunder by a horde of biker zombie mutant orangutans on the front lawn and she’d scarcely notice. Especially if she was reading a good book.

“OK fine.” I turned to the fine art of all married couples everywhere… dropping it… and focused on our guests. “Please brew some coffee and stick it in a thermos or something?”

Mrs. Curmudgeon agreed. She started grinding up the day’s second pot of Death Wish coffee. She glanced out at the truck, which was still driving in vague orbits around the field. “So who are they.”

The question made me giddy. Since the very definition of a payment for the killing of an unwanted animal is “bounty”; I’d decided that Florence and Jane, two friendly ladies who looked like someone’s grandma, were “bounty hunters”. I’d been waiting for just that question.

“Bounty hunters!” I enthused.

Mrs. Curmudgeon, who has been married to me long enough to expect statements like that, just shook her head and filled the thermos.

Florence and Jane were entirely unlike this meathead.

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The Gopher Huntresses: Part 2

The women weren’t actually named Florence and Jane (despite what I wrote in the last post). I don’t remember their actual names. They told me but I forgot within seconds. Ignoring names is a special skill of mine.

I’ve arbitrarily decided to call these two nice ladies Florence and Jane. Who gives a shit about actual names? Would a rose by any other name be less likely to drive a truck across my field?

What’s important is they were very pleasant people. I wanted them to stay and talk. I simply had to hear their story.

The first thing I learned was that Florence and Jane had been hired by the farmer who “rents” some of my land.

Full disclosure, I own some land and I rent out a piece of it. Don’t be impressed. It’s shitty land; which is all I could afford. Then again, it’s mine and therefore better than land which is not mine. (I were rich I’d buy more of the shitty land around me. Like most men I don’t want to own all the land but I do want to own all land that touches mine.) Back to the point, some of my shitty land is (barely) suitable for agriculture so I rent it to a farmer who plants and harvests the fields. By rent I mean I pretend he’s going to pay me and he pretends he will get around to doing it. In reality no money changes hands and we both know it. Instead I accept the sorry truth that his tractor runs and mine doesn’t. It’s worthwhile to let him plant crops on my small shitty field in exchange for having a properly maintained small shitty field instead of an improperly maintained small shitty mess of weeds.

The second thing I figured out was that they were there to kill gophers. My fields have gophers. Don’t act surprised; if you’ve got a field you’ve got gophers too (unless you’ve got some other creature mucking up the land; like prairie dogs, woodchucks, or hippies).

Gophers do what God programmed into their dense little heads and they spend their days making piles of dirt. The piles wreak havoc upon the farmer’s decrepit equipment (which is much better than my imaginary equipment). Thus, he “hired” Florence and Jane to do some good old-fashioned gopher killing.

I was in the presence of genuine agricultural hired killers!

Can there be a better world than one where professional gopher killing rednecks scratch out a living with a rusted F150 and a bunch of traps? I wanted to give them both a hug!

This is why I love living in the country! Sure, cities have the opera and decent Chinese food, but I’ve got friendly hired agricultural killers with which to associate. I’ve been to the opera, it was OK but it pales in comparison to sitting on a tailgate discussing the honorable art of rodent killin’.

Florence and Jane, for their part, had no clue the land didn’t belong to the farmer. I immediately declared “no harm, no foul”. They had a good reason to be there and the dreaded “survey stakes” were to locate and secure gopher killing apparatus (as opposed to something nightmarish like a rogue real estate developer). There was also the mention of a bounty on gophers. I dimly understood that an obscure branch of the local government pays a certain amount per dead gopher! This was news to me. By then I’d warmed to them. I offered them coffee.

One was more business-like but the other spoke my language. “I’d love coffee! Jane didn’t let me stop for a cup this morning and I’m going to die!”

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The Gopher Huntresses: Part 1

[This post was originally went live on April 19th as A Story Which Is Not Yet Named: Part 1. I copied it here to put the bits in order. Also, I had no idea it would take two weeks to get the rest typed out. Whoops!]

[Not long ago, a reader asked me to write about homesteading and give squirrel stories a break. This wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Not only was my head deeply embedded in… Abba… but I was out of ideas on the homestead front. Nothing stupid had happened recently. How was I to have any stories if nothing ridiculous happened? Fortunately, the universe provided…]

No shit there I was; it was Sunday morning. I was sipping coffee and mentally listing the things I’d rather do than deal with taxes. Suddenly I noticed a truck driving on one of my fields! Someone was putting out survey stakes.

Oh. Hell. No!

Dropping everything, I marched out there to act deplorably. I’d chase whomever was trespassing to my property line (or the county line if I got pissed enough). However, as I stomped across the field, the truck started pulling away. Asshole!

I moved to intercept. As soon as the truck was well out of reach it stopped. A woman got out and started crawling around on her hands and knees doing something. I hollered “what the hell do you think you’re doing?” No response. Whatever she was up to must be fascinating. And she was brave too. I have an attitude about trespassing that can freeze ice at twenty paces. Virtually anyone in my path usually senses it and acts accordingly; yet she was totally unconcerned. I regretted failing to grab my shotgun. Perhaps a visual demonstration of how goddamn uptight I can get would’ve helped? She shoved a survey stake in the ground and (in no hurry at all) sauntered back to the truck. By then I was no more than a hundred feet away. Even so, the truck rolled on; leaving me trotting behind like a dumbass.

Having been ignored once I was ignored again. Then again. Then again! The truck frustratingly circled around with the driver randomly hopping out; always just beyond reach. She’d plant survey stakes (using no visible measuring equipment and not in any obvious pattern) and she was fast. She’d jump back in the truck before I caught up. She always left just as I was tantalizingly close to their location.

This was going all wrong. I was behind the OODA loop and impromptu jogging is not my style! I considered a change of tactics. Perhaps going back and hopping on my ATV? Would a truck versus ATV rodeo liven up the day? Or I could watch through my spotting scope on the porch. Would that clue me into the pattern behind the survey stakes? But maybe they’d slip away while I was regrouping? I didn’t want to risk it.

If I hadn’t forgotten my phone I might have called back to the house and asked Mrs. Curmudgeon to release the dog. Hindsight is 20/20.

Finally, the truck broke in my direction. It lazily circled around and began heading right for me! I stood my ground. Excellent! Whether I wound up bouncing off a truck grill or not I was going to get to the bottom of this. It’s a true fact that I’m willing to duke it out with an F150 if it’s uninvited and on my field. I mentally prepared for whatever would happen next.

A man needs values to live by. “Brave enough to be stupid”, is one of mine.

Even though I was directly in it’s path, the truck’s driver wasn’t in a hurry. She was creeping along very slowly. I got a good look through the windshield and realized there were two women in the cab. One driver and one passenger. They were a matched set. Both were roughly retirement age and dressed in dirt smeared sweatshirts. Neither was looking anywhere near the direction the truck was going; which was odd.

The driver was looking left. The passenger was looking right. Neither was looking forward at the angry redneck who was fixing to get mowed down at a sedate 5 mph. When the truck was only 40 feet away it eased to a halt. Whew! The driver hopped out with a trowel in one hand and a survey stake in the other. “Hey!” I shouted. “What in Sam Hill are you doing?”

She didn’t acknowledge me at all. Meanwhile the passenger had jumped out of the truck and disappeared. Where was she? So much for my situational awareness! I was suddenly more worried by the person I couldn’t see than the one I could.

A shouted again and the passenger popped her head over the truck’s hood. If she pointed anything my direction I’d start zig zag running like a rabbit. Instead she broke into a grin.

“Hello” she said.

That was far less threatening than I’d expected.

Meanwhile, the driver kept ignoring me. She was already on her way back to the truck; no doubt planning on driving me over very slowly while looking the other direction. Her colleague tapped her on her shoulder and pointed in my direction. The driver finally focused on the glowering bearded speed bump angrily tromping across the mud in their direction. She smiled too.

That’s how I met Florence and Jane.

(Stay tuned for the rest of the story…)

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The Squirrel Liberator

The Silicon Graybeard mentioned me (link here). How awesome is that?

Adaptive Curmudgeon said he loves it when I say things like this:  the barrel measured 0.368, so I thought a 3/8″ (0.375) drill bit would be too big.  I was going to get a reamer in .373 (.005 oversized), but thought I’d measure my “best” 3/8 drill bit.  It was .370!  So I tried drilling out the holder, figuring that it might end up being a “test cut” that ruined the piece, and it came out more like 0.371 (it was still warm, so maybe I’ll recheck it in the morning).  I’ll eventually stake the barrel in place with either red LocTite or JB Weld.  I’m not sure if I’m going to cut it shorter and crown it.  Da bomb would be to cut it in two equal pieces, crown both and cut a chamber in the new half!”

Yes! Drill diameters and JB Weld! Be still my beating heart, for tinkering is afoot… perhaps even… dare I say it? … Fabrication! Everyone go to Silicon Graybeard and thank him for noodling around with drills, mills, and skills.

You might ask “what is this particular mad scientist building?” Why the GB-22 of course.

Simple doesn’t have to mean crude. It seems rather elegant to me.

The GB-22 is specifically designed to be just about the simplest firearm possible. Aside from a few pins and a spring, it has 5 parts and (while they exceed my skills) they’re presumably rather simple for a hobby machinist. (OK, the image above does have a few “ringers”. The optics on the top one isn’t coming off anyone’s bench anytime soon, the metal surfacing is top notch, and the grips add to the part count. Even so, it’s a cute lookin’ little bugger.)

This one might have come from Royal Nonesuch.

The one on the left is more like the kind of crap I’d make. A bit too scruffy for my tastes. I don’t buy the “P-cord means it’s a tactical grip” argument. Also I hate Philips head fittings.

It’s entirely functional; it’s not going to take off your thumb or melt after three shots. For those clutching at their pearls it’s entirely legal! (With caveats of course. If you’re reading this from occupied socialist lands like California or Massachusetts you might as well set your computer of fire and go to the constabulary to confess your sins of wrongthink after readings this.)

The plans are $12 and free citizens can buy them here. To me, the GB-22 is appealing because it’s simple but doesn’t look like an ape hewed it from a stovepipe.

Full disclosure, I’m not building one of my own. I can barely keep a tractor running and I’ve been distracted by my pretty new block plane. So I know nothing more than ogling the photos.

Silicon Graybeard added this:

“And not a single lesbian squirrel was even inconvenienced in the making of this post.”

To which I respond “why the hell not?” Lesbian activist squirrels are running amok and someone must do something. Think of the children (or Boo)! Perhaps the universe cries out for an exquisitely fabricated single shot .22 in the hands of a hunter?

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Best Friday Quote Ever

My friend (and occasional contributor) Dr. Mingo just uttered the quote of the year:

“I don’t have time for this shit.  I just want to play my fucking banjo!”

Indeed.

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A Story Which Is Not Yet Named: Part 1

[Not long ago, a reader asked me to write about homesteading and give squirrel stories a break. This wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Not only was my head deeply embedded in… Abba… but I was out of ideas on the homestead front. Nothing stupid had happened recently. How was I to have any stories if nothing ridiculous happened? Fortunately, the universe provided…]

No shit there I was; it was Sunday morning. I was sipping coffee and mentally listing the things I’d rather do than deal with taxes. Suddenly I noticed a truck driving on one of my fields! Someone was putting out survey stakes.

Oh. Hell. No!

Dropping everything, I marched out there to act deplorably. I’d chase whomever was trespassing to my property line (or the county line if I got pissed enough). However, as I stomped across the field, the truck started pulling away. Asshole!

I moved to intercept. As soon as the truck was well out of reach it stopped. A woman got out and started crawling around on her hands and knees doing something. I hollered “what the hell do you think you’re doing?” No response. Whatever she was up to must be fascinating. And she was brave too. I have an attitude about trespassing that can freeze ice at twenty paces. Virtually anyone in my path usually senses it and acts accordingly; yet she was totally unconcerned. I regretted failing to grab my shotgun. Perhaps a visual demonstration of how goddamn uptight I can get would’ve helped? She shoved a survey stake in the ground and (in no hurry at all) sauntered back to the truck. By then I was no more than a hundred feet away. Even so, the truck rolled on; leaving me trotting behind like a dumbass.

Having been ignored once I was ignored again. Then again. Then again! The truck frustratingly circled around with the driver randomly hopping out; always just beyond reach. She’d plant survey stakes (using no visible measuring equipment and not in any obvious pattern) and she was fast. She’d jump back in the truck before I caught up. She always left just as I was tantalizingly close to their location.

This was going all wrong. I was behind the OODA loop and impromptu jogging is not my style! I considered a change of tactics. Perhaps going back and hopping on my ATV? Would a truck versus ATV rodeo liven up the day? Or I could watch through my spotting scope on the porch. Would that clue me into the pattern behind the survey stakes? But maybe they’d slip away while I was regrouping? I didn’t want to risk it.

If I hadn’t forgotten my phone I might have called back to the house and asked Mrs. Curmudgeon to release the dog. Hindsight is 20/20.

Finally, the truck broke in my direction. It lazily circled around and began heading right for me! I stood my ground. Excellent! Whether I wound up bouncing off a truck grill or not I was going to get to the bottom of this. It’s a true fact that I’m willing to duke it out with an F150 if it’s uninvited and on my field. I mentally prepared for whatever would happen next.

A man needs values to live by. “Brave enough to be stupid”, is one of mine.

Even though I was directly in it’s path, the truck’s driver wasn’t in a hurry. She was creeping along very slowly. I got a good look through the windshield and realized there were two women in the cab. One driver and one passenger. They were a matched set. Both were roughly retirement age and dressed in dirt smeared sweatshirts. Neither was looking anywhere near the direction the truck was going; which was odd.

The driver was looking left. The passenger was looking right. Neither was looking forward at the angry redneck who was fixing to get mowed down at a sedate 5 mph. When the truck was only 40 feet away it eased to a halt. Whew! The driver hopped out with a trowel in one hand and a survey stake in the other. “Hey!” I shouted. “What in Sam Hill are you doing?”

She didn’t acknowledge me at all. Meanwhile the passenger had jumped out of the truck and disappeared. Where was she? So much for my situational awareness! I was suddenly more worried by the person I couldn’t see than the one I could.

A shouted again and the passenger popped her head over the truck’s hood. If she pointed anything my direction I’d start zig zag running like a rabbit. Instead she broke into a grin.

“Hello” she said.

That was far less threatening than I’d expected.

Meanwhile, the driver kept ignoring me. She was already on her way back to the truck; no doubt planning on driving me over very slowly while looking the other direction. Her colleague tapped her on her shoulder and pointed in my direction. The driver finally focused on the glowering bearded speed bump angrily tromping across the mud in their direction. She smiled too.

That’s how I met Florence and Jane.

(Stay tuned for the rest of the story…)

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Sears: Another One Bites The Dust And A Curmudgeon’s Reminiscences

Sears recently made an announcement:

“Sears said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had ‘substantial doubt’ about its ability to stay in business…” (Link is here. Be warned it’s a USA Today article with an outlandish advertisement to content ratio.)

I’d assumed Sears was already gone. Who buys anything at Sears? Why?

It’s a lot like when Radio Shack went under and I thought “Radio Shack still exists?” That said, the self inflicted death of this particular dinosaur is a bittersweet moment to me. Here’s my true story about Sears:


Back in the stone age, Sears had a good reputation and I didn’t. I was young, unemployed, lonely, broke, and running on fumes. Shit happens and sometimes a young man (despite his best efforts) bottoms out.

But fortune favors the bold and I never quit striving. After many setbacks I landed a job! My future was looking better than my present.

All I needed was steel toed work boots. I couldn’t show up at the job site without them. (Even back then OSHA was utterly feared by employers.)

I didn’t have cash to buy the required safety boots. (Sounds like a country music song doesn’t it? Well it’s true so quit laughing.)

This was back before everyone and their dog had credit cards. (And yes, for the younger readers out there, there was a time when there wasn’t a Government program to provide every damn thing a person would want.) Until I figured out the boot situation I’d continue swirling the drain. None of this is complaining, I just want to set the stage.

People say “I spent my last dollar” but it’s rarely literally true. For me it was. I had half a tank of gas and when it ran out I was done for! My food was already gone. Asking for help from friends and relatives was unthinkable. I’d have died before I asked for money and I was 500 miles away from home anyway (both literally and metaphysically). (Listen to the song y’all. Many of us have been there.)

After various attempted solutions at solving my quandary. I wound up at a mall were I sought salvation… from Sears.

Back then the only way a man of modest means could buy on credit was from “store cards”. The only card a loser like me could get was Sears. No shit… there was a time when a man couldn’t easily get a Visa card. I lived in those times so I know it’s true. Yet from the modern point of view it seems remote and unbelievable.

Sears had literally one pair of steel toed work boots in the store. They weren’t cheap. I bought them (and nothing else). I was immensely grateful. I still remember that moment with a soft heart.

Surprisingly, the boots sucked. They trashed my feet. The job sucked too. I didn’t care. It’s better to have cut up feet (thanks OSHA!) and a shit job than be half a tank of gas from homeless.

That moment, when a pair of boots was a nearly insurmountable barrier, may not be my lowest financial point (there have been many to choose from) but it was certainly among the scariest. I had looked into the abyss and come back with nothing worse than blistered feet. I was very lucky. Six months later I bought vastly better boots (possibly Redwings). I paid cash and tossed the Sears footkillers in the trash.


Fast forward many years and I was slowly climbing the financial ladder. Because of the boots, I had a warm spot in my heart for Sears. They’d been a hand up in my time of need and I was inclined to “repay” by buying a shitload of top end stuff. Notably I “invested” in a pile of Craftsman wrenches & tools. I also sprung for car batteries, shocks, mufflers, sets of tires, power tools, jeans, household appliances, a fancy vacuum cleaner, and much of the other stuff a person needs to live a normal American life. I could have gotten all that crap cheaper elsewhere but I wanted “quality” and Sears still had a stellar reputation. I figured I’d buy the good stuff and only have to pay once.

Gradually I realized I was paying extra to get shitty stuff. The wrenches were good (I still have them) but everything else was crap. The sander conked, the appliances went belly up, etc…

I wanted to maintain brand loyalty for life. Yet I was getting screwed. How long should I reward them for those boots?

Finally, after my fancy vacuum cleaner conked out for the umpteenth time, I broke ties with Sears. It wasn’t the shitty vacuum that did it. It was shitty people.

I was in back trying to buy parts to keep my piece of shit running. Up front, a young couple was browsing shiny new vacuum cleaners. They looked like newlyweds from a Norman Rockwell scene. They were pondering the vacuum cleaners and debating the “investment” that was probably a big deal purchase in their budget (as it had been in mine). They were being assisted by a salesdrone. He was extolling the virtues of longevity and quality components.

The part I needed was out of stock. Parts were out of stock more often every visit. Meanwhile a different salesdrone was giving me the hard sell on a new vacuum cleaner. “Why bother with another belt? These vacuums are only meant to last a couple years anyway.”

That asshole! When I’d bought the damn thing I’d been at that very store! I’d paid twice what I’d have spent at a new competitor across the street. (A heretofore unknown Borg-like entity called Walmart.) At the time of purchase I’d been told ;”This thing will last a lifetime.” I’d been willing to pay higher prices based on the promise of quality and longevity.

I grabbed my salesdrone by the elbow and towed him bodily to the front of the store. I steered him between the shocked couple and their worried looking alternative drone. Then I engaged in a little “street theater”:

“This model is the one I own.” I waved at the vacuum cleaner that was exactly what I owned, couldn’t buy parts for, and the newlyweds were considering. “Go ahead, tell everyone what you just said to me.”

My salesdrone’s jaw dropped. He looked like I’d hit him between the eyes with a sledge. Finally, after a long pause, he shrugged and gave in; “Those vacuums are only meant to last a couple of years.”

Whether it was because they were freaked out by me manhandling salesdrones or because it dawned on them that plastic shit is cheaper at Walmart, the newlyweds left. I stomped away; leaving a salesdrone who’d just lost a sure commission glaring at the other who had stepped in it.

I never bought anything at Sears after that day. This comports with a standard Curmudgeonly Gem of Insight:

A company that fucks with me is banned from my life for eternity.”

It’s inevitable that Sears will die. You can’t screw up worse than they did with me. I was hugely grateful and planning to pay top dollar for quality products as long as I lived. They had the world in their hands. They blew it for the one-time profit on an overpriced vacuum cleaner. They foisted shit upon a man so loyal I’d have crawled through broken glass to give them money. Sears didn’t lose to competition, it committed suicide.

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