Sunday, January 15, 2017

Lee Pitts - A Faults Alarm

There’s an unwritten rule of nature that says when two species share the same territory the weaker one will sooner or later leave or be run off. This is called “competitive exclusion” by educated people who want to show how smart they are. Basically, it’s nature’s way to keep everything where it belongs. It’s why Texans have rattlesnakes, fire ants and spiny brush, why Wyoming has wind, and why New Mexico has red and green chilies. If you can’t take the heat… feel free to get out of the kitchen.

I’m a fifth generation Californian and we’re famous for two natural disasters: earthquakes and liberals. In the case of some people who lived nearby, competitive exclusion is working just fine in keeping the riff-raff out and eliminating poor breeding stock.

I don’t know where they came from but when these liberals moved close by they thought they’d discovered paradise. It didn’t take long before it started losing its charm. I can pinpoint exactly when the luster started wearing off: about ten o’clock one morning when we had a baby earthquake. It was nothing really, and I probably wouldn’t even have noticed if the doors to my shop hadn’t rattled off their hinges. When you’ve lived through as many earthquakes as I have, 6.0 on the Richter scale is no big deal. A faults alarm, you might say. I hardly looked up from my leatherwork. But from a quarter mile away I heard this terrible scream and my new neighbor lady was running out of her house in her curlers and pajamas looking like she’d just seen a ghost. She ran over to my place seeking protection and yelled “THAT WAS AN AN EARTHQUAKE!” 

“Nah,” I replied. “Not really. That was just a tremor.”
“But my refrigerator was walking across the kitchen floor!” she replied and for a moment there I thought she was going to have “a movement” herself if she didn’t calm down. I tried to calm her nerves, “You know there could be a few aftershocks.”

My new neighbor overreacted and wouldn’t go back into her house and when it got dark I went over to warn her about the mountain lions that prowled the neighborhood at night looking for something to eat. She ran back into her house as fast as she had run out of it that morning. Poor thing probably didn’t sleep a wink.

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