Nov 24, 2016


A lesson I learned the hard way:

It's a children's story and school chapel stalwart. I can always pull that one out and be guaranteed a thoroughly entertained audience.  Everyone has a good laugh at  my expense, and hopefully everyone takes home a nice little lesson about how pride does indeed go before a fall.

You probably know the story--maybe you were even there--of when I went head to head with the pig in Chuuk and lost. But in case you haven't heard the story, here it is in brief.

A very large pig wandered on to the campus of Chuuk SDA School one beautiful morning.  Every one sheltered in place while the pig wandered the school grounds with impunity.  I was all prepared to take my friend J's advice to leave well enough alone, until I happened to stop by the classroom of our 8th grade teacher, one Susie Kim.  Susie was appalled that this pig had caused all outdoor activities at the school to grind to a halt.  Someone should do something, she declared.  And because I wanted to impress her, I decided that someone would be me.

I went out into the school yard to deal with the pig.  How hard could it really be, I thought to myself. It's a domesticated animal after all.  I approached the animal carefully from behind (I know, I know. . .or at least I do now), intending to kind of shoo it out the gates of the school.  Quicker than I could blink, the pig whipped around, slammed it's massive head against my leg and then just as quickly went back to grazing.  My painful holler echoed across campus, and I hobbled away to the school office, my leg throbbing. Once safely inside the office I noticed the hole in my pants, and pulled up pant leg to reveal a gaping stab wound where the pig had gored me with it's tusk.

I still have the scar

While I was hustled off to Chuuk State Hospital, with visions of rabies in my head (I would later learn there are no cases of rabies in that part of the world),  a young lady by the name of Taichina, a high school sophomore at our school came out and quickly escorted the pig home.  It belonged to her family.  Clearly, she knew what she was doing.

The pig escaped from it's enclosure at least one more time, and this time I stayed safely in my classroom and watched as the pig charged a full grown man, plowed into him between his legs and tossed him aside like a rag doll.

I thought a lot about what I'd write about for this entry.  I thought about poor financial decisions and failing to properly prepare for situations that ended up catching me flat-footed, but the problem with those situations is that I'm not sure I've actually made the changes in my life that would ensure the lesson has actually been learned.  I needed a situation where I could prove that I'd actually learned the lesson.  And this is just such a situation:

Fast forward 20 years.  I'm supervising latchkey at the church gym one beautiful spring morning when our 4th grade teacher, Wayna Gray pulls up at the door.  She is shaken, and reports that she has been attacked by a goose at the front door of the school.  I look across the parking lot to the school campus and see two Canada geese standing placidly on the school lawn some distance from the front door.  She tells a horrible story of the goose's relentless attack, how it knocked her down, and kept coming at her with it's stabbing beak and beating at her with its broad wings, how she'd been lucky to get away from it at all.  She suggests we not allow any students or parents to approach the school until something can be done.  Something can be done.  There are those words again.

And then she asks if I would be willing to try to retrieve her purse, which she had dropped in the struggle near the front door of the school.   Sure, I say without giving it much thought, and I start to stride off across the parking lot.

"Mr. Maycock, why don't you drive my car up to the front door.  Those geese are fast, and you need to get in and out quickly."

Drive the car?  Really?  Because of birds?  Come on. . .

"No, it's okay, I'll be fine," I reply confidently.  How hard can it be, anyway. . . 

And then it hits me.  Lesson learned.

"On second thought, I think I will take the car," I say as I walk back to the gym.

And it's a good thing I did.  I pulled her car as close to the front entrance of the school as I could. It felt like a crime scene. I could see where the front door was a spider web of shattered glass.  Wayna had been kicking the door that hard in her vain hope that someone--anyone--would come to her rescue.  I saw the purse lying on the ground a few feet from the door.  And I saw the goose, who was now watching me intently as well, standing on the grass at the far end of the building.  I leaped out of the car and ran the few steps to her fallen purse.  In a flash, the goose was coming at me, wings spread wide, hissing with rage. I dashed back to the car, barely making it inside before the goose was at the car door trying to get me.  That goose was unbelievably fast.  If I had come on foot, I never would have made it.  I gunned the engine, reversed hard, and raced back across the parking lot.  The goose ran after the car for a little before deciding I was sufficiently defeated.

We spent the next few hours directing traffic to the church, and away from the school.  The students and staff waited there until the goose man came  (Yes, there really is such an occupation, a goose whisperer if you will).   The goose man was able to capture the male goose, who was the aggressor and take him away.  In a little presentation he made to my students later that morning, he explained that when the geese are nesting, the male will attack but the female won't.  And sure enough, we could see the  mother goose wandering the grounds forlornly looking for her mate who had suddenly been whisked away.

As for me, I now had confirmation that I had indeed  learned the hard lesson the pig taught me in Chuuk.  Don't tangle with animals unless you really know what you are doing.

Look carefully, and you'll see Papa and Mama Goose roaming the school parking lot like they own the place.  Far be it from me to argue with them.

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