Friday, April 6, 2012

Memories of ‘Melvin the Mallard’

OOIDA Life Member Gordon Alkire of Riley, KS, recently sent me a story about a duck. So it’s Easter, and that made me remember this duck story. It all started when he was reading the article “Sore like an Eagle” in the August/September 2011 issue of Land Line. From there, I need to let Gordon tell this in his own words. Here’s Gordon:

The eagle story caused me to recall an avian situation that happened to me years ago. In 1976, I owned a ’68 Pete and was pulling tanks and flat beds. We were using pumps to drain a catch pond at a closed meat packing plant in Decatur, IL. We would fill our tanks at the pond and go to an underground cavern and dump and return for another load.

While in transit with one of these loads a mallard duck flew into my truck via the passenger window. The window was open, thank goodness. Quacking loudly, the duck just flew in, sat down on the passenger seat, and refused to leave. I was traveling about 30 miles an hour.

This duck was something else. To say I was taken aback is an understatement. It scared the dickens out of me. There I was driving in traffic and trying to watch out for the usual oddball car driver, and this feathery aberration flew in and adopted me.

This duck was the usual colored mallard, blue and bright green. He was as loud as a quacking foghorn. This duck trucked with me for about a week.

When not in the truck, it would follow me everywhere, kind of  likea puppy duck. We were staying in the Holiday Inn in Decatur – and when I went in, it went also, except when I went to the dining room.

It was beginning to be a mascot at the Holiday Inn. The duck was a celebrity of sorts. It would let people touch it and coo and ogle it as long as it could see me. When I got out of its sight, the party was over and it went hunting for me.

While in the truck it would sit on the dash and look at everything going on around us. The moving truck did not bother it. Even with the windows down it did not try to get out or fly away.

The weirdest thing was whenever there was an officer or police car around it would go crazy with the quacking. I thought I would go deaf in my right ear at times. I could not stop it until the offending car or uniform left.  I guess you could say it was a quacking radar detector of sorts.

When I would get out to hook up pump hoses, it would sit there waiting for me to do my job and return to the truck.

The motel people helped me keep an eye on it with food and water and some straw for the bedding. It stayed in an open cardboard box at night in the room. And if it needed or wanted to go out, it let me know by jumping out of the box and going to the room door and pecking on it. This duck just blew everyone’s mind including mine.

That duck adventure was strange but enjoyable. During that whole week, taking a picture did not enter my mind. Thanks to the eagle story, however, it was nice to remember this.

Melvin the Mallard: Wonder Duck – that’s the name someone came up with. I had this feathered companion for nearly a week. We were a team, just doing our work together, this mallard and me. One afternoon at the end of the workday, it told me goodbye. It fluttered up to the dash by the steering wheel, looked at me for a little bit, quacked and flew out the window. It circled the lot twice and then headed off into the blue skies honking as it left. 


Monday, April 2, 2012

They’ll be swimming in for this one


We’re guessing that the person who typed up a fake public meeting notice at the Maine DOT offices was gearing up for some April Fools’ Day shenanigans. The trouble is the fake notice actually got published in a major newspaper. The clever yet whimsical wordplay has left the agency and the paper apologizing to a community.

It starts out as a regular notice to the people of Isleboro in regards to the Mill Bridge replacement project, but that’s the last of the normalcy.

The notice in the Bangor Daily News insinuates that DOT representatives will be “swimming in, if they miss the Quick Silver Water Taxi,” and that the reps will be on hand to “listen, with fake sympathy, to stranded folks who missed the Ferry complain, receive dirty looks from the locals, and smell the sandbound fish, who missed the tide ride.”

In the digital age, it’s somewhat easy to send the wrong draft to someone, who doesn’t give it a second thought, and before you know it, it’s published.

Should this have been caught? Absolutely. And yes, someone will undoubtedly make the point about someone goofing off in the office being a waste of time and government resources. Yada yada.

Not sure if anyone was truly insulted, although this may have gotten close: “We really don’t care about the bridge. We are just curious about these island folk. Anyone who happens by is invited to disrupt the meeting.”

The notice is good for a chuckle at least, given its almost Python-esque delivery, and is detailed right down to a faux project email address, “catchawavehome@maine.gov.”

No word on whether the author has been sacked, or if the person who should have sacked the author has been sacked.

And by the way, there is a meeting happening April 24 at the Isleboro Town Hall.