Friday, 5 December 2008

Live Squirrels and Dead Cats

The squirrel warning in the previous post has reminded me of an episode from the past. One night during my schooldays, my mother found a dead cat outside our house. It had been hit by a car and cast into the gutter. (In Edinburgh, the gutter is the dip between the road and the pavement (sidewalk) where water gathers before draining away. I mention this because I've noticed that this part of the streetscape has different names in different places and you might be imagining something else. Likewise, the actual drain has lots of different names: in Edinburgh it's a siver and in Glasgow it's a stank - some places they just call it a drain, which is a bit disappointing.)

It wasn't bin night in our street, and my mother didn't want a dead cat lying in our dustbin for a couple of days, but it was bin night round the corner in the next street. Ever thoughtful, my mother didn't want to just chuck a dead cat in someone else's dustbin and besides she didn't think it would be very nice for the binmen if they found it, so she got some brown paper and string and made a parcel out of it.

It then occurred to her that someone finding a parcel in a bin might think it contained something interesting (I think I've just realized where I get my over-developed planning bump from), so she wrote clearly on the parcel, 'This is a dead cat.'

Do you think anyone who found that would believe it? Do you think they would they be able to resist opening it?

I imagine something similar happened with the squirrel bin. Someone accidentally encountered the squirrel (and had the living daylights scared out of them, I expect) and considerately thought they would save someone else from the same experience, so they made the sign (they had to go home to do that, and use the pc, the printer and the laminator) and after consideration, decided to use a very simple and direct warning rather than an explanation. It's grammatically correct, apart from the absence of a full stop, which makes it almost unique in the world of signs.

And it arouses the same terrible temptation, just to stick your hand a little bit inside, just to see if there is a squirrel.

6 comments:

Joan said...

And who would stick a hand in? The same sort of person who would scratch a chicken pox to see if it really would leave a scar afterward. Ask me how I know...

Lee said...

That story is going to have me snickering all day -- so funny~

Raveller said...

You make me laugh, Helen! Actually, considering how many people there are in the city, they probably had come across such packages before and were very appreciative of your mother's note. Once, my husband and I had to dispose of a dead rabbit that we found next to our house. We didn't write a note, but I remember that that we were concerned about the garbage men and we took great care to wrap in such a way that it looked like the regular kitchen trash and no one would look into it.

Knitting Linguist said...

I had to laugh at the idea of clearly putting the contents of that parcel on the outside. And yes, the squirrel-checking temptation is pretty powerful!

Mary Lou said...

Oh Helen I laughed very hard at this story. I once put a dead squirrel in a bright blue New york times delivery back, put in my bike basket and rode it up to the gas station that had a giant dumpster where I disposed of it. I bumped into two people I knew on the way, both of whom asked what I had in the bag. One friend still tells the story.

lin said...
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