In more than 20 years of writing for this newspaper, I’ve learned plenty. For instance, I now know that Election Day is a newsroom holiday, and the company will feed you scrumptious snacks, even if you write outdoors stories that have nothing to do with politics.
Also, I’ve learned that coffee exists as its own food group …. and that after waiting for six hours for a single callback from a source, that source will finally phone you while you’re in the men’s room.
And today, I’ve learned this: Don’t chase bears. Especially with a dull hatchet. Super-duper especially if you’re drunk as a skunk.
To many of us, that advice would seem to fall into the “You think?” category. If you’re in that group of forward-thinking, bear-respecting folks that always keeps their hatchets well-honed and their drinking under control, I salute you.
And if you’re not … well, you might be from North Adams, Mass.
I’m sorry. That’s not fair. I’ve never been to North Adams, and have been assured that it’s a wonderful place. I’m also sure that today’s headline came as a bit of a surprise to townsfolk there.
But according to that always-accurate purveyor of truth, justice, and the American way — Facebook — there’s at least one guy in North Adams who needs a stern talking to … or a first-hand encounter with a bear who can set him straight.
On Wednesday night, my wife told me about a story that had appeared in USA Today, courtesy of the North Adams Police Department’s Facebook page.
I immediately started chuckling …. then I reverted to my serious journalist mode — you know, the mode I fall into when I’m writing about space aliens and mystery beasts and werewolves and 500-pound deer.
“I’ve got to write about that,” I told her. “This is too good not to share.” (Even if one of the nation’s biggest papers has beaten me to the punch).
The North Adams PD is staffed by at least one officer with a sense of humor, you see. And on Monday, the officer posted a doozy of a warning.
“Chasing bears through the woods drunk with a dull hatchet is strongly not advised,” the post begins.
Heck, they had me at “Chasing bears.” Even before the drunken hatchet-wielding, I was hooked.
But it got better. It seems that a local fellow in North Adams got a bright idea the other night and … well, I’ll just let the North Adams PD tell you the tale.
“The North Adams Police Department is urging everyone to NOT chase bears through the woods with a dull hatchet, drunk,” the posts continues. “Yes, that really did happen tonight. We understand there are bears in the area. If you see a bear, LEAVE IT ALONE and call us.”
Good advice, to be sure. Heck, I think we ought to adopt that policy here, too. What’s good for North Adams is surely good for Middle-Bangor.
“We certainly don’t need anybody going all Davy Crockett chasing it through the woods drunk with a dull hatchet,” the post continues. “It is just a bad idea, and is not going to end well. It will, however, certainly end you up in jail … which it did.”
Well, good for the bear … and the North Adams PD …. and, most likely, for the man himself, who might not have fared in a Davy Crockett-ish manner if he had, in fact, caught up with the bear and taken a few swipes at it.
“The hatchet man was taken into protective custody due to his incapacitation from the consumption of alcoholic beverage,” the post read.
All of which led me to ponder. Apparently, the whole incident was a also bit confusing to the men and women in blue down there in Massachusetts.
“We are still trying to figure out what his endgame was,” the post continued. “Any thoughts on what he was going to do if he did locate [the bear]? We would certainly like to hear, because we have no idea.”
I’m curious, too. So if any readers can help, I’d be willing to listen, and perhaps even pass along our best motives to the folks down in North Adams.
In the meantime, have a great weekend. Be safe. And whatever you do, don’t cut firewood with dull bears who’ve been drinking and listening to Molly Hatchet.
Or something like that.