Dog Gone Whistle by Gary Benton
Bubba walked into the busy department store and up to the refund counter. The line was long, but he expected as much, since it was just a few days after Christmas. He noticed all of the workers wore bright red vests and even had their nametags centered right above the store logo. Fancy enough, he thought as he pulled his ball cap down on his head and adjusted it for a better fit.
An hour later, he was still in line, but he’d be served next, so he allowed his blood pressure to go down. Two things Bubba hated in life with a passion, standing in lines and rude people. Little did he know that on this day he would encounter both of them.
“Next!” He heard a female voice say and glancing at the long refund counter he finally saw her waving franticly at him at the very end. Moving quickly, before she changed her mind, he walked to the counter, held out a plastic bag and said, “I’d like a refund.”
He noticed Myrtle, according to her nametag, was a chubby middle-aged woman, with purple hair, pierced eyebrows and false teeth. Her smile was weak and forced, her bright green lipstick looked unnatural and he suspected not an inch of her was genuine. Grinning, he thought, I won’t get much help here, I suspect.
“Ooo wan a refun?”
“Huh?” Bubba asked, but then saw her tongue was pierced. Still grinning like a dog attempting to pass a peach seed, he replied, “Yup, I want a refund.”
“No can do.” She stated with a flat voice, handed the bag back to him, and continued, “or ooo can speak wid da manager.”
His grinned disappeared as he said sharply, “Then, Myrtle, get the manager.”
A few minutes later, a tall lanky kid of about eighteen walked to the counter and stated with no small amount of self-pride, “I’m Hank and I run the refund department. What can I do for you today?”
“Howdy Hank, I got this dawg whistle fer Christmas and it don’t work.”
Hank looked confused and pulled the whistle from the plastic bag, looked it over closely and then replied, “It’s not damaged, so it should work.”
Bubba, feeling his cheeks flush with anger, slowly said, “Son, things in life don’t always do what we expect them to do. See, my cousin Bobby Lee ain’t damaged, but he don’t work neither.”
Taking the whistle from Hank and placing it to his lips, Bubba blew long and hard. As soon as he’d finished, he wiped the spittle from the whistle and said, “See, ya cain’t hear a thing.”
Hank gave a loud laugh and replied, “Of course not, it’s a dog whistle.”
“And, Hank, what does that mean?”
“You’re not supposed to hear a dog whistle.”
“Listen young feller, I may be old, but I ain’t stupid. If a whistle don’t whistle, then she’s broke. Do I look like I fell off the chicken truck this mornin’ as it entered town?”
“You can’t hear a dog whistle and I didn’t even know we had a chicken truck coming to town.”
“Because it’s a dog whistle, or do you mean about the chicken truck?”
“The whistle!” Bubba responded with his voice filled with frustration. “Ok, then is the dawg supposed to blow it? I mean, if a dawg blows it, will I be able to hear it?”
Hank, growing angry with his job and especially the man in front of him replied in a loud voice, “A Dog Cannot Blow A Whistle And You Cannot Hear A Dog Whistle.”
“You mean to stand there and tell me you sale whistles that nobody can hear and a dawg cain’t blow? Who in their right mind would buy a whistle they cain’t hear or the dawg cain’t use? Hill fire, son, how would ya know if-un it was broke?”
Leaning over the counter, with his face bright red, Hank replied, “Yes, we carry them and I have no idea how to tell when a dog whistle is broken.”
“Get yer boss son and calm down a-fore ya have one of them heart attack thingamabobs. If ya don’t have the answers, then get me somebody that does.”
“I’ll get the boss, but he’ll want to know why you want a refund for a one dollar purchase.”
“Ya mean this thing only cost a dollar?”
“Yep, one buck.”
Bubba thought for a moment and then said brusquely, “Get the manager and get ‘em now! Just the thought of thousands of folks buyin’ a whistle that don’t work from y’all and knowin’ most won’t bother to come back fer a refund torques my jaws. I’ll have my refund, one-way or the other! Cost ain’t the issue here no more!”
A few minutes later a man walked up to the counter with Hank at his side. Giving a warm smile he said, “Hank explained the problem with the whistle. Dog whistles are designed to work at a much higher pitch than the human ear can hear so while it seems to not work, it is in fact working. A dog can easily hear the whistle.”
“But, I thought I heard something a few minutes ago.” Myrtle replied.
Hank and you both would, Bubba thought but said, “Then let’s go to your pet department and see how the dogs react.”
After ten minutes of blowing the whistle in the pet department and watching the excited dogs jumping Bubba finally turned to the three employees and said, “I’ll be dog gone, I guess it does work.”
Myrtle gave a smirk and asked, “Didn’t you try it at home?”
“Yep, but it didn’t work then.”
“How did your dog react?” Hank asked with a big grin.
“Yes, sir, your dog. What did he do when you blew the whistle?”
“I ain’t got a dog, that’s why I brought this thing back for a refund.” Bubba replied, grinned and stuck his hands in the front pockets of his bib-overalls.
“Why didn’t you tell us that up front?” The department manager asked.
“Y’all didn’t ask. Ya was in too much of a hurry to deny the refund.”
Back at the refund counter, Bubba collected his dollar, plus tax and as he walked form the store he thought, that’s the problem in the world today, everyone hears but no one listens. The world is in too much of a hurry.
“Nope, not really, just in the military veteran sense. I mean, Burrhead here is a military vet, but would ya want him to doctor up ole Blue if he got hu’t?
Bubba looked over at Burrhead, who had a big twisted grin on his face, and then replied, “I wouldn’t let him try to doctor up a goose. He ain’t got no learnin’s about critters. Heck fire, he worked on my care ten years back and it still don’t run.”
“See, I rest my case.” Uncle Ben said.
“What case and what in the world are ya a-talkin’ ‘bout?” Bubba asked and I knew he was growing angry, so I changed the subject. “Let’s get back to them folks that don’t like hunters.”
“I had a woman stop at my house last year and ask me what I had hangin’ in the big tree in the front yard.” Burrhead said as he added a log to the dying fire.
“What did ya tell ‘er?” Bobby Dale asked, totally engrossed in the tale.
“I told ‘er it was a cow with non-typical horns, with a score of ‘round 200, and it was butcherin’ time.”
We all shared a laugh and as soon as it grew quiet once more I said, “Seriously fellers, I don’t know how some folks will survive if something ever happens and we have to revert to the old ways again.”
“What ya mean?” Uncle Ben asked as he pulled his pipe from his teeth.
“Ya know, no electrical power, no gas, not runnin’ water. How could most folks survive without them thangs?”
Uncle Ben smiled and said, “I do it everyday.”
“Yep, but by choice. I mean, really, what do y’all think would happen?”
“Well,” Burrhead said, “I think a lot of them folks that don’t like to wear animal fur would be out in force, lookin’ fer a new fur coat come a hard snow.”
“Yep and them folks that think chickens are loved to death by the butcher would soon learn how to prepare their own meat.”
A few minutes of silence filled the night and then Bubba said, “I hope that don’t ever happen.”
“Why’s that Bubba?” I asked, because I was actually interested in his answer.
“Because I don’t want to share my neck of the woods with a bunch of greenhorn hunters that expect a deer to look like a cartoon Bambi and don’t know the difference between the barrel and stock of a gun.”
“What yer sayin’ then Bubba, is most of ‘em couldn’t find their rear-ends, even if they started with their hands in their back pants pockets.”
The remainder of the night was filled with similar intellectual subjects until we moved off to our sleeping spots one by one. As I lay in my sleeping bag I thought, I’m one lucky man to live where I live. How many fellers can hunt with a nice group of friends and family and discuss such deep and meaningful subjects. I’ll bet them big rich jaspers can’t buy this . . . or sadly, even appreciate it.
The next day we all filled our deer tags, but that’s another story for another time.