On a visit to my wife’s aunt and uncle in a very small town that shall remain nameless, one of them related the following, reproduced here as accurately as I can make it. (You need to know that their house sits at the edge of a very large treed lot.)
The husband and wife of the household were sitting peacefully at home when the doorbell rang. A very contrite gentleman, apparently the owner of the large white pickup truck and cattle trailer parked outside, had some bad news for them, which he proceeded to relate: it seems that he’d been delivering a cow to the meat processing plant on the edge of town and was leading the animal from the trailer to the loading dock when another truck suddenly roared out of the gravel parking lot, scattering stones and dust, whereupon the cow promptly bolted and headed into town.
(“Mad cow! Mad cow!”)
For the next couple of hours, the town maintenance man and the local constable pursued the animal from house to house. Eventually the beleaguered bovine took refuge in the peaceful yard of my wife’s relatives, where it stood under the sheltering boughs of a tall pine tree. One would think this the perfect opportunity to rope the beast and lead it away, but instead, declaring the harried animal to be wild and dangerous, the constable pulled out his revolver and shot the cow in the head, dropping it where it stood. This presented the posse with a dilemma, as a dead cow is not an easy thing to move. However, the enterprising maintenance man retrieved the town’s front-end loader, which proved equal to the task, but only barely. With the carcass hoisted in the air, he attempted to drive out of the yard, but the front-end loader got stuck in the rain-softened ground. By the time he finally worked his way to the pavement, there was a huge trench in the yard. (Note that all this transpired without my wife’s relatives hearing or noticing a thing!)
After explaining all this, the man at the front door promised to return the next day and repair the damage to the yard, seeing as it was his cow that had caused all the trouble. My wife’s aunt would have none of it, however, insisting that the town was responsible, considering that the constable had come onto their property and executed the cow without bothering to ask permission. She promptly confronted the posse, who had it all figured out:
Maintenance man: “No problem, I’ll just go get a load of dirt to fill the hole!”
Constable: “That’s a mighty big trench. You’re gonna need TWO loads…”
Maintenance man: “Oh, I dunno, one ought to do it.” Etc., etc.
This just made my wife’s aunt more angry, and she forbade either of them to do the work. Finally the two of them agreed to summon professional help, and the next day the town paid for a nurseryman to fill the hole, reseed, and clean everything up.
(He did a good job, too, because I couldn’t see a thing wrong with the lawn.)