Government health campaigns are all well and good, but they can have unexpected consequences. On this occasion I once again refer to the bowel screening campaign I mentioned a while ago. Back then you may recall that my male staff had a dispute with the post office over how they treating his sample of bush chocolate. He was dissatisfied with the slap-dash way they intended to post it to the testing centre. He insisted that they send it priority post in case the prized sample deteriorated en route. (I recall saying to my male staff that I wasn't sure that poo goes off, or indeed has a "best before" date, but he wouldn't listen.)
Anyway, on this occasion the bowel health campaign caused my male staff to lose three passports, just when they were most needed. In the sample kit were instructions and advice on bowel health which advised people to inspect their bush chocolate at every opportunity. I'm not sure what they were supposed to be looking for - coins, gold rings, false teeth - that sort of thing I imagine. In any case my male staff took this advice to heart and now makes a point of closely inspecting the contents of the toilet bowl on a regular basis. Please excuse me if this comes under the category of "Too much information" but bush chocolate is very close to the heart of all guinea pigs. Indeed it makes up a vital part of our diet. So much so, that one Thai guinea pig owner has written a recipe book on the subject.
Many of you will know that my staff, my female staff's mum, Badger and I all visited Africa recently. My male staff likes to keep everyone's passports in his shirt breast pocket for easy access so that he can whip them out with a triumphant flourish when asked for them at the immigration desk. Well, when we arrived at Brisbane - our home airport none of us had been able to get the the aircraft toilet for the final few hours of the flight due to turbulence. In fact it was so bad that Badger decided to spend most of the flight inside his sick bag. So when the plane doors finally opened we all made a made dash to get off so that we could be amongst the first in the nearest land based toilet. My female staff and her mum dashed into the ladies' and my male staff hurried into the gents' with Badger and I in his carry-on luggage. We had to barge an elderly wheelchair bound man out of the way because the only free cubicle was designated "Disabled" and while my male staff fumbled with his trousers Badger and I hopped out of the bag and deposited several hours worth of bush chocolate in opposite corners.
We waited (paws over noses) while my male staff finished and watched as he stood up, then turned and bent down to inspect the product of his bottom passage as he's been instructed to do by the Australian government. Plop....plop....plop. His passport and those of my female staff and her mum fell one by one into the toilet. A look of abject horror swept across my male staff's face. From our position on the floor it was impossible to see whether or not they had sunk, but we guessed they had because after muttering something that sounded like "Pluck me sideways, that's all I plucking need!" he rolled up his shirt sleeve and after a moment's hesitation during which I swear he dry heaved, he plunged his arm into the toilet bowl, all the while muttering something about "plucking this, plucking that and plucking the other." A strange time to be thinking about de-feathering birds I thought to myself, but under the circumstances I thought it best to keep quiet.
One by one the passports were plucked from the toilet bowl. (Maybe that's what he meant.) Then he shook them a bit, making Badger and I duck for cover, then opened the cubicle door and tripped over his trousers which in the excitement he had forgotten to pull up. This caused no little amusement among the half a dozen or so people who were washing their hands. With as much dignity as he could muster he climbed to his feet, pulled up his trousers and underpants, grabbed us and thrust us into the bag, and then proceeded to wipe the soggy passports as best he could with wads of toilet paper, before shoving them back into his shirt pocket, where they leaked a pale, brownish stain down the front of his shirt. It was most attractive.
"What took you so long?" Asked my female staff when we eventually emerged from the gent's toilet.
"Billy and Badger were constipated." Said my male staff. I would have bitten him if I could have escaped from the carry on bag I was in.
"And what happened to your shirt?" Continued my female staff.
"Oh that. I spilled coffee on it."
"What were you doing drinking coffee in the toilet anyway? And what's that horrible smell?"
"Never mind that." Said my male staff hurriedly changing the subject. "Let's get through passport control, get our bags and get home. I'm exhausted."
Poking my head out of the bag I couldn't help but notice that our fellow passengers were giving us a wide berth as we walked towards passport control and when we finally reached the desk, the bored looking immigration officer suddenly looked less bored and more sort of............horrified. Especially when my male staff handed him three damp, brown tinged passports around which buzzed half a dozen large black flies. The immigration officer gingerly took them in his finger tips and leafed through them as though they were covered in poo - which is understandable since they were. Each time he stamped them there was a kind of rather disgusting squelching sound and little droplets of khaki shaded water sprayed onto his own formerly pristine white shirt. Finally he handed the offending documents back to my male staff who thanked him politely, as one always should thank immigration officials who have handled your poo smeared travel documents.
"Ahhh. It's good to be back in Australia." Said my male staff as we finally emerged from the terminal building. "You can smell the eucalyptus trees already."
My female staff wrinkled her nose. "I can't smell any eucalyptus trees, but whatever that God-awful smell in the terminal was seems to have followed us out here. And where have all these flies come from?"
Badger sends his apologies this week. He is currently laid up in a veterinary hospital in Brisbane. He thinks he has athletes foot, but the vet insists that it is bloat. Hopefully he'll be back next week.