Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit, —Nielsen, S. 10th International Congress on Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis, 2009
“A wise man does not pee into the wind” (data not shown).
“I don’t know a damned thing about camels. What brought this up?”
It was six in the morning. I’d been at home and in the middle of breakfast when Mark called. I like Mark. Anybody who can put up with my sister has my admiration—but camels? He’s an engineer and doesn’t have anything to do with animals. And six in the morning?
“Linda roped me into a Living Nativity: camels, donkeys, sheep—the whole menagerie. They’ve kicked the little kids out of the pageant and put in animals and adults. Nobody in church knows anything about large animals, so Linda volunteered me to be the director because she was raised on a farm, and you’re a vet. Go figure . . . I guess I should be happy you’re not a proctologist, or I’d be manning a shovel, in charge of scooping.”
“I’m sure an engineer could come up with something better than a shovel.”
“Not in this time frame. What advice can you give me on big animals, church pageants, and teenagers?”
“I’ll tell Linda. What else?”
“Make sure whoever provides the animals also provides professional handlers. The rest of you should keep clear of ’em. The animals won’t know you, and your people won’t have a clue how to behave around them.”
“Already covered that, but I’ll give the lecture again,” Mark said. “Anything else?”
“The ‘anything else’ is your problem. The only time I saw a Christmas pageant switched from kids to adults, the pageant went down the tubes.” I didn’t tell him it was three years ago and it was my kids that sunk it. “Inserting adults could mean one of the adults wants the stage. That—”
“That would be Charles. This whole thing was his idea. I’m the director, but he’s kept control.”
Mark gave me a thumbnail description of the program. This is a recipe for a fiasco, I thought. “All I can tell you is to take every chance you get to tell your people to move slowly, speak softly, and never come up behind an animal without a warning—hum a tune, talk quietly—anything, but be sure the animal knows you’re there. Startled animals kick first and think later. People could get hurt, even killed. You’ll be lucky if any of your advice sinks in, so have somebody there who’s trained in first aid.”
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