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  D.F.'s Column Archive


July 30, 2007

West Nile Kills, and My Client Wants You Dead


“Look at this, D.F. Look at this!”


The client was not happy. He was showing me the newspaper. There was the bad news. Plain as day for anyone to see.


“West Nile Cases Down Dramatically” read the headline.


This was a problem.


“How am I supposed to get my contract renewed?” said the client.


Hmmmmm. Is there a way out of here? That’s what I was thinking.


Here is what the client does: He sprays stuff into sewers. Why? I thought you would want to know that. Mosquitoes live in there. The stuff the client sprays kills the mosquitoes, kills their larvae and supposedly makes everyone’s summer barbecues less itchy.


That is all well and good, but not many cities will pay you thousands of dollars a year to eliminate itchiness from barbecues. Much to the frustration of the client.


Death, on the other hand – that is another story. Cities don’t want their residents dying. Who will pay the property taxes? Who will pick up the tab for the mayor’s lease car? Cities like their residents alive, and that becomes problematic when West Nile starts spreading.


I am not a doctor, but I’m told that West Nile is spread by mosquito bites and can kill you. Fewer mosquitoes, fewer West Nile cases, fewer deaths . . . lease car running strong. The client is sure that this is what’s going through the heads of city fathers everywhere. City mothers too.


But today was a sad day.


“Not a single West Nile case all year, D.F. Not one! You know what’s going to happen, don’t you?”


“People will live?”


“No one will care about the mosquitoes! No one will hire me!”


I wondered if I should remind him that people actually die from West Nile, which might serve as a teensy weensy little hint that his yearning for a West Nile case could be a tad untoward. I watched him stalk around the room a little more.


“If we can just get one case. Just one. Even if it’s just some old lady or something. That would get attention. We could leverage that, D.F. . . .”




“Do you think we can check emergency room logs? Do they let you do that?”


At this point, I was beyond creeped out, and decided the meeting was over. I told the client I had to go.


“Go? What do you mean? We haven’t got this figured out yet!”


Oh. I had everything figured out.


“Aren’t you going to help me?”


Granted, I had to leave the cup of coffee I’d been drinking, which was kind of a shame seeing as how I had washed the cup myself before filling it up. It looked like it had last been washed around 1983, so I wasn’t going to take any chances.


This conversation actually took place three years ago. The poor fellow never got his contract, and I imagine he is still stalking around his office ranting about it. I also imagine that coffee cup hasn’t been cleaned again.


At any rate, I saw a headline today announcing that West Nile is back with a vengeance. This year’s new cases are four times the number we had last year. I actually thought about sending him an e-mail letting him know the fantastic news. But he’s probably already checked out the emergency room logs, just waiting for the day when he’ll be paid to spray.


I’m glad I got away.


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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