I recently had the opportunity to speak to one of my U.S. senators. This big shot friend of mine gave the senator a “donation.” Enough to fill a wheelbarrow, if the wheelbarrow was as big as your house. My friend is an oil guy. He wears a cowboy hat too big for his head (but he’s too rich to mention this to). And he’s the kind of guy who likes to give people a wide toothy grin and a big thumbs up anytime the situation remotely allows it. My friend made his money the old fashioned way. He flunked out of a second tier college, and then stumbled around drunk for a few years until his grandfather died and left him a boatload. Anyway, he gave a bunch of money to this senator, and the next thing you know, this senator’s aide is calling my friend to set up a meeting. Only one thing, my friend is a busy guy, and this is what led him to make the critical mistake of asking me to go instead. He figured I was good with words and could convey his position on an “important energy issue.” Like I said, big mistake. Almost as big as his hat. You see he wanted me to talk about “fracking.” Now I know all you old timers at the VFW think I’m talking about something else. No, not that. The fracking I’m talking about is where trained engineers shoot high pressure water or radioactive waste or something down into the earth, and then pray to God the whole place doesn’t blow to smithereens. Then oil shoots out of the ground and makes them absurdly rich (the One Percenters the Occupy folks are always taking time out of their busy days to complain about). You may have seen this if you ever watched the beginning of a Beverly Hillbillies episode. I’m pretty sure it was Jed who started the whole fracking thing.
Suffice it to say, the environmentalists are all beside themselves about this and are having about one billion heart attacks a day. In the meantime, the politicians are hiding in corners counting votes (and my friend’s money).
So, anyway, I roll into this coffee meeting at some random Starbucks. And I failed to mention that my oil friend gives the senator absolutely no notice he’s sending me instead. The disappointment in the senator’s eyes is almost too painful for me to bear. So the senator recovers and jump starts the conversation by leaning forward with a deeply sincere expression (a little too close for my comfort) and asks me to pass along his gratitude to my associate. I swear he actually used the word “associate.” I told him that my friend was extremely disappointment to miss the meeting, but an emergency had come up (which was a bold-faced lie, but it felt right at the moment). The senator asked me about any concerns that he should be aware of (he probably meant of my friend, but in fairness to me, he wasn’t explicit). I dove in.
“Yes, there is,” I said. He leaned in and widened his eyes. (It felt quite conspiratorial.) “You fly quite a bit, don’t you senator?”
“Almost every week.”
“So airline safety is important to you?”
“Why, of course.”
“Have you been noticing what’s going on with the therapy animals lately?”
“Therapy animals – dogs – they’re everywhere now. Got’em for everything, even anxiety. Well, they’re flying on planes with us now.”
“And…?” the senator’s face squinched up puzzled.
“Ever wonder what kind of damage a wiener dog could do incoming in at a couple hundred miles an hour? Yeah, I know people are already holding babies on their laps, but that horse left the barn a long time ago.”
“Pet seatbelts. Strap’em down. Heck, strap the babies down too. Harness them to their owners or parents, whatever. Legislation would shoot through Congress. Promote it as an infant/companion animal safety measure. Do it before some nervous nelly’s Chihuahua slams into your head on an aborted take-off.” I paused for effect. “It’s time, senator. It’s time.”
When my friend asked me later how it went, I nodded and said, “Mission accomplished.” He gave me a wide toothy grin and a really big thumbs up.