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The Creativity of Harmless Hijinks

Aug 2nd, 2013 | By | Category: Nick Kemper's Blog

In the summer, see we head for water. In a week or so I’ll be dipping my toes in the snow-fed waters of Lake Tahoe. The kids will be on the paddle boards. A few years back I met a guy who was scouring a small man-made lake in Rancho Murietta, Calif., with a metal detector. He told me that he secured a map of Lake Tahoe when they had casinos there, and he went out among the old pilings and found silver and gold coins in the sand and mud.

You never know what might lurk under the surface I suppose. Many years back the company I worked for was called down to the boat dock at the Selwood Bridge on the Willamette River in Portland to fish out a car that had gotten away from its owner and submerged. They needed a diver to assist. While the diver was underwater, he found another car. Then another. Then another. Turned out there were three old cars dumped at that spot in the river – all stolen. No prizes, for sure, but the powers that be wanted them out of there. So we pulled them all out and stored them at the impound lot where I was stationed.

These cars had been underwater so long that they were full of river mud. So for about two weeks they drained out water. They didn’t smell good at all. After a day or so, when the mud started drying up and it got hot in the car, crawdads started crawling out. We had crawdads crawling all over the lot. No animal rights groups were called in, and I’m pretty sure more than a few crawdads were harmed in the daily operation of the business. It was a paved lot about two miles from the river – where were they going to go?

Most of them just wandered around until they got dehydrated and died. Someone got the bright idea to take one of the dead ones and put it in the boss’ truck as a joke. We put it in the glove compartment. It smelled bad already, before it had died. We were thinking the boss would notice right away that something was up.

Of course, we quickly forgot all about it, and about three months later I was in the boss’ truck and opened the glove compartment to look for a flashlight or something and there was that dead crawdad. He apparently never even noticed it. It was really dried up by then, and it had lost its odor.

Undeterred, someone decided to bring in a dead smelt and stick it under the seat of his truck. Again, he didn’t notice. Finally, someone else who had to drive the truck “fished” it out and tossed it in the dumpster.

Why do we things like that? I mean, apart from being immature and impulsive? As you can ascertain, the boss wasn’t well liked. It was just hijinks, I think. Generally harmless, although there were worse things done to him than the planting of crustaceans in his glove compartment. He never found out about most of it, which is the definition of harmless in my book. Meaning, no harm could be done to us as punishment. I think it’s the natural outpouring of creativity from a young mind. Not all creativity leads to valuable breakthroughs like that teenager who developed a cheap test to detect early-growth pancreatic cancer. Sometimes creativity is all about discovering ways to make your buddies laugh.

And picking on the boss is definitely a time-honored pastime, isn’t it?

If you want to pick on the call receivers, a fun thing to do is to call in and pretend to be someone who doesn’t speak English whose car has been towed away. Just repeat the same two or three broken-English sentence fragments until they lose their composure and start yelling at you. Then laugh, reveal your identity and tell them the boss hired you to be a “mystery shopper.”

I gotta go make some calls.

Have a safe and profitable week.

Nick Kemper