A disheveled, angry man came into the office. His eyes were blazing. In a tense, controlled voice he asked, "There's a plaque across the street in the park. There's a name of a family on that plaque that donated the land in the park to The Hamlet. Is their name pronounced 'Karr' or 'Kerr'"?
"Sir, I'm not sure. Maybe--"
"Do you keep genealogical information in this office? Like birth records, death records?"
"No, sir, we don't. Maybe if you--"
"So is it 'Karr' or is it 'Kerr'? Which is it?"
"Sir, that land has been a park for a long time, before World War I. I'm not even certain I've seen the plaque--"
"'Karr' or 'Kerr'. 'Karr' or 'Kerr'?! Which is it?"
"Maybe if you went to the library, they'll have information--"
"That isn't what I asked you. DO YOU KNOW. THE PRONOUNCIATION. OF THE NAME."
I stared at him and said, "No."
"Thank you. That's all I needed to know." He turned and walked out of the office.
I was transcribing a tape of a recent planning commission meeting. The subject of the meeting was a proposed therapeutic riding center that would be opened in a residential area of The Hamlet. Approximately 80 residents of The Hamlet attended the meeting, most of whom against the proposal, as they felt the stable would contribute to rodent and insect infestations, manure would pollute the groundwater, and traffic on the small road leading to the stable would increase exponentially.
After opening comments and presentations, the public was invited to share their concerns about the facility. One woman came forward and proceeded to share that she was batshit crazy.
"The horseflies!" she screeched into the microphone. "They are going to eat my face!"
"Good morning, The Hamlet. This is T-Bone."
"Hello, T-Bone. This is Judy up on Long Street. I was just calling to let you know so you can warn some of the personnel at the fire department and at public works that there is a big mountain lion up here."
"Really. Was he in your yard?"
"Yes. He scared me! He was walking around outside in my yard and looking in the living room windows at my cats! He just sat there and stared at them."
I chuckled. "Yeah, I bet he did!"
"And he's huge. I bet he weighs 150 pounds. He was just walking around, then he started looking in my windows."
"Did you call the Division of Wildlife?"
"Yes. I called them and they sent a lady out. The lion had already left and gone across the street to the creek, but she tracked him. I guess he has an injured left back paw."
"Oh. That's not good. I'm really glad you called to tell us," I said, envisioning the mountain lion attacking an unsuspecting public works guy cleaning out a storm drain or something. "So you haven't seen him since?"
"No. But I do think it's the same lion from last summer. He sat on the roof of my neighbor's house trying to figure out a way to get this raccoon that was sitting way up high in a pine tree in their yard. It was so scary! That lion sat on their roof for over an hour, and that poor little raccoon-- well. Finally the lion just leapt off the roof to the pine tree, got the raccoon in its mouth, and landed on the ground and took off. He took the whole top of the pine tree with him. I watched the whole thing from my kitchen window."