I thank my gentle reader for taking the time to read not only one story but two. In telling a good tale, sometimes the characters involved are complex and it justifies the storyteller explaining them in greater detail. The second half of our story takes place at Mt. Hermon conference center just like the first. It was towards the end of the summer and my friend Aaron and I were on garbage detail.
What this consisted of was two fold. First in the morning the garbage team would take a rolling grey bin around to the various trash cans on the commons area, removing the bags from the cans, placing them in the bin, and replacing the liner. When the bin was full we took it to a large walk-in refrigerator beneath the dining facility. The refrigerator was called the "bull pen". When this was done the two custodians would ride around the hills of the camp on the trash truck, driven by the infamous Bob Verbeek.
At the end of the run, Bob would back the truck down the hill and so it was right outside the bay door to the bull pen. It was the worst part of the day. This was due to the other contents of the bull pen. Aside from the garbage we tossed it held all the food waste generated from the meals of 600 plus guests! The food from all the dining tables was scraped off and collected and put into cans on rolling dollies. These were called "pig food" because at one time a farmer used to collect the waste and use it. The buckets could weigh over 100 pounds easily. It is not difficult to conclude that emptying the bull pen was our least favorite task. Partially due to the association with Bob Verbeek, but mostly from the pig food.
In the morning while the sun is shining, the horrors of the bull pen are pushed aside and we could laugh about life. As we walked around emptying cans we joked about Bob Verbeek and his unique views on life, laughing about his claims to be the "best mopper on the crew". But as we got to the end of our route we were brought back to reality by evidence that some kind of four legged critter had been into the cans. There were several cans that had refuse strewn about, and we finally found what must have been the mother lode. It just so happened that it was the last can of the route.
While we loaded the bag we realized without doubt that it was indeed a skunk who had invaded our realm. In fact the scent was so pervasive that I joked that the skunk was "probably in the bag" We laughed it off and rolled towards the bull pen. After we dumped our load, the offending bag actually grew to be very offensive indeed. When we got upstairs we could still smell it, and we laughed about the poor suckers who were left to suffer.
We did the trash route without any major hitches, and I am sure that we took some time to surf on the roof of the truck. It was our way, it was our passion. The bag of smelly garbage was all but forgotten when we backed down to the bull pen. But when we opened the door the scent still lingered. So we started pulling trash out and throwing it in the truck, trying to go as fast as we could. Unfortunately as we got further and further down in the pile it got so bad that both of us refused to throw anymore trash. So Bob Verbeek tucked his nose into his shirt and started going pulling trash like he was the last trashman on earth!
By now a bit of a crowd was starting to gather. The chief chef was there standing 6'4" in his full chef regalia. My good friend Jason a cook was eyeing us and laughing, and I am sure several of the Mexican guys were hiding behind him. The smell was so strong eyes were watering. Bob's moves were a blur. Then suddenly it happened. I saw a movement of black and white. Then the burgundy shirt and tanned face of Bob Verbeek. The door was slammed and Bob was on his radio to the boss! "Bob. Tom. Skunk in the bull pen! Skunk in the bull pen! Bob. Tom. Skunk in the bull pen!" This call went out on the radio to the entire staff. The entire staff must have died with their collective laughter!
The situation was growing now. Eyes were popping out from cracks in doors. We were in the thick of the action! The chef got involved. He even volunteered some of his men to help us construct a wall. We used the garbage cans to create a walkway so that our black and white friend would be forced to leave the premises. Bob, now courageous was saying that if you pick a skunk up directly by the tail that it cannot spray you. I suggested that he try it!
When the wall was constructed the plan was hatched. Bob Verbeek ran to the door of the bull pen, opened the latch and ran back. The skunk, dazed by the activity and from overeating, waddled into the room. It tried to get through the garbage can wall, but gave up and turned toward the door. At this point I was up on the exterior stairs watching with Jason and Aaron from a safe distance. Bob was armed with a garden hose. The skunk waddled out the bay door and turned towards the woods, at which point Bob sprayed him. The skunk skittered off, content and full. When the wild beast was forty feet away, Bob Verbeek grabbed a pair of leather gloves and gave chase, slapping the gloves together yelling, "And stay out!"
To summarize the aftermath, I think we gained respect for Bob Verbeek because he stayed in the bull pen after we all left. Yes, we respected him, but the story would forever be linked to one rallying cry: "Bob. Tom. Skunk in the bull pen! Skunk in the bull pen! Bob. Tom. Skunk in the bull pen!"
Blessing: May BobVerbeek and that skunk live long, and never have to smell each other!