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The Squirrel Hunter

Posted on Thursday, May 3, 2018 in Small Business Today Articles

The Squirrel Hunter

Last Friday we went to Dubuque to visit my 91 year old father.  My dad remains very sharp mentally, and is in pretty darn good shape physically. When we were about an hour away, I called him to let him know our expected arrival time. He was glad to hear we were close and told me that he had a couple of jobs for me to do once we arrived. I didn’t give it much thought because my dad often has simple jobs for me to do around his house.

This time however, was different. He showed us the doors to his four season room, which were closed. That was unusual because they are rarely, if ever, closed. The reason that the doors were closed was because he had a baby squirrel trapped in there and couldn’t catch it. On Wednesday night he noticed two squirrels climbing up his drapes in the dining room.  He was able to get one with a broom, and couldn’t catch the second one, but he had it trapped. Now he wanted me to do something about it.

As I surveyed the situation, I noticed that the squirrel was not moving, possibly sleeping behind a small broom.  Then close to my feet I saw a small, empty waste basket and thought I would try to capture the squirrel in humane fashion. So I opened the door, and carefully crept closer. Then, with speed and quickness that even surprised me, I was able to move the broom and trap the squirrel under the waste basket!  Of course with the waste basket upside down, the next problem was how to get it right side up, keeping the squirrel inside?  Again I looked around and spotted a potential solution.

What I saw was an envelope that was big enough to cover the opening of the waste basket.  I carefully slid the envelope under the wasted basket and voila! I had captured a baby squirrel. Now what to do with it?  I took the squirrel outside and released it underneath a pine tree.  Feeling good about my accomplishment, I went back inside and helped clean the room, halfway expecting to find another squirrel hiding in a seat cushion. Finding no more members of the squirrel family, we took to trying to find out how they got into my dad’s condo.

Finding nothing obvious, we put wire on the furnace and water heater vents, just in case. Feeling good about myself, we enjoyed the next day and a half with my father and sister, who was also visiting. On our way back to Ankeny on Saturday night I received a text from my sister. “The squirrel is back!” My heart sank.  Like before, they trapped it in the four season room as they were unable to catch it.

On my desk at work is a quote of the day calendar. One of my favorites is from H.L. Mencken, a journalist, satirist, social critic and cynic.  It goes like this: “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.” As small business owners and managers, we are often faced with complex problems and find clear, simple and wrong solutions. I am not one to recommend overthinking a problem; very often I tend to error in the other direction. But I have found that it is important to think the problem through from multiple angles. It takes longer, and very often someone else’s point of view, but will solve and not exacerbate the problem. 

On Monday a professional came to my dad’s house and caught the third squirrel and identified it as a flying squirrel. I don’t know if that made my dad feel any better. Next time he has some jobs for me to do; I might have to think twice!

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