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A Beary Well-Earned Bit Of Chow

, , , , , , , , | Working | December 20, 2021

I’m visiting family in a small town and I stop by a local bakery.

Employee #1: “Oh, hey. You’re [Dad]’s kid, right?”

Me: “Hey, yeah, I’m [My Name].”

Employee #1: “Great, great… So, you’re the biologist, right? Mind helping us settle a little dispute?”

I’m expecting a question about vaccines or masks, and I’m about to start explaining that I can’t help when the second employee whips out her phone. She opens a picture but doesn’t show it to me yet.

Employee #2: “So, I was hiking recently, and I got this picture. Now, I don’t want to bias you in any way, so I’m not gonna say what the argument is just yet, but can you tell us — exactly and scientifically — what kind of animal is… this?

She flips around her phone, showing a very clear picture of a bear.

Me: “I’m the wrong kind of biologist for that, but… I’ve got a friend who does wildlife bio. Let me send him a picture and we can get an expert opinion.”

Me: *Texting* “Hey, [Friend], can you tell what kind of bear this is?”

Friend: “Hmm. Black bear, Ursus americanus, but I can’t tell the subspecies. Let me ask [Professor].”

Me: *To the employees* “Okay, he’s going to bring this to an expert.”

Employee #1: “If you can give us a definitive answer, then you get a slice of pie on the house.”

We chat for a bit, but they refuse to tell me any more about the picture until a final judgment is made.

Friend: “Okay, I have your answer. It’s a good picture, but it’s hard to tell from this angle. However, I showed it to [Three Professors and Two PhD Students] and we compared photos online. Almost certainly Ursus americanus, the Eastern black bear. [Professor] thinks it’s male, but we can’t determine for sure. That’s all assuming this was taken locally. If it’s not in Maine, let me know.”

Me: “Okay, we’ve got an opinion from the experts. But first, do you know where the picture was taken?”

Employee #2: “Yeah, about twenty miles due north from here. I can point it on a map if that helps.”

Me: “No, they just wanted to confirm it was in Maine. I give you… Ursus americanus, the Eastern black bear.”

Employee #2: “Knew it! So, what kind of pie would you like?”

Me: “Pumpkin, please. [Employee #1], what did you think it was?”

He folds his arms and doesn’t answer.

Employee #2: “And here’s one slice of pumpkin pie for knowing the difference between a bear and a Chow Chow.”

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