Is that seat taken?

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    You don’t have to be Dr. Doolittle, talking to the animals to see the connection between their world and our own supposed “advanced” form of existence.

    As a kid working on dairy farms close to our home, I witnessed a very humanlike pecking order with Holstein and Jersey cattle.


    Each morning and evening the cows lined up in a specific order. Like well disciplined soldiers, you could count on the exact order day after day. They were so reliable that we kept records via their ear tags in a logbook. They looked like random numbers but each one was a cow with her position in line.

    On occasion, one would step out of line, and take a spot that was not hers. When this happened, well, all hell broke loose in a bovine sense as the slighted cow who had her spot taken charged in to challenge the offending bovine.

    You let them work on their difference since 1300 to 1500 pounds of four-legged fury was more than a match for the biggest, strongest, dairyman. They always solved their own problem and almost always, the offender was put back in her correct place.

    My friends and I often did the same thing to see the reaction of people during large gatherings. While everyone does it, elementary school teachers with their penchant for “fairness” are a blast to annoy by taking their position.


    When a group of teachers gathered in a lecture hall or auditorium we always hung in the back. If the speaker was especially sincere, compassionate, or otherwise annoying, we were able to sneak out easier that way.

    We would take note where certain groups of teachers took their seats. The “bowheads” as I called them were always in the front row, always smiling to the presenter, making eye contact and just being “so wonderful.” (Sorry, I can’t raise my voice an octave or too to sound saccharine sweet but you get the idea.)

    After lunch, we’d get back early, and take their seats.


    Remember, these are all open seating events. Most of the time they came back in, were startled to see someone in “their seats” and moved to another location, but a few of the ones who eventually evolved into full-fledged “Karens” challenged us, claiming the seats were theirs.

    They weren’t, and we didn’t engage them, just remained in their seats until they stomped off in a huff.

    After a few snickers we settled in until the next break, then returned to the back. Who wants to sit in front of an inservice speaker anyway? Aside from a noteworthy couple of them in a 32­-year career, they were just high paid talking heads in slick suits or tight dresses that had little to offer for regular classroom teachers.


    I’m sad to report, that most of the teachers in America are presently undergoing this same inane, mandated morale killing torture as school begins over the next couple of weeks.

    But, back to the four legged, or possibly winged animals.

    There is a red maple tree in front of my daughter’s house in Western Pennsylvania. We’ve named it the “Jayne and Norah Tree” in honor of our two granddaughters who love to play in, under and around it.

    They have a plastic bird feeder hanging from a large branch on the east side of the tree.

    Sue and I always make it a priority to buy birdseed and refill the feeder each time we visit.

    Adam and Staci aren’t as dedicated to feeding the neighborhood birds. As I write this, I’m watching a pair of Cardinals sampling the fare.

    The female is on the rim of the feeder and the bright red male is on the grass underneath. They’re both sampling a mix of corn, sunflowers, millet, and other grains.

    Not a single bird was here for the first few days. Jayne and I filled the feeder earlier this morning and now the flights are arriving on schedule.

    How birds know when its filled amid the heavily leafed branches is a mystery, but they do.

    Jays, sparrows, finches, Cardinals, a stray Oriole, and pigeons (rats with wings) all came in just a few minutes after the bowl was filled.

    Have you ever been in the grocery store when hamburger, tomatoes or chicken goes on sale? It disappears almost instantly. We know that texting and cell phones have made communication almost instantaneous, but the speed with which these shelves are emptied is truly amazing.

    Anyone remember the COVID-19 toilet paper shortage? Artificial? Yes, it was. It was frustrating, with an emphatic yes.

    We have the edge on the animal kingdom when it comes to hoarding, stocking up or pure gluttony. In most situations where we have an informed choice, it is an embarrassing statement on human behavior, but an accurate one.

    Back to sitting in someone else’s spot.

    When Sue and I were first married we attended the Lutheran Church in Lusk. One Sunday morning we arrived a bit early and sat near the front on the left side.

    I heard some loud guffaws and a few deep sighs from behind us and thought nothing of it.

    On the way out a puffed up elderly man, red with anger, informed us the pew we sat in was for better, established Christians.

    Sue was mortified and said we’d sit somewhere else. I just gave the idiot my best Jack Nicholson threatening grin and walked out.

    You guessed it, I made a point of sitting in his seat for the duration of our stay in Lusk.

    I never got a Christmas card from that clown. It still bothers me. (Where is the sarcasm font?)

    We can build cities, level mountains, cross oceans and reach into the depths of space, but at the end of the day, we’re still the same old failed personalities.

    I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes from the original Star Trek series. As Khan speaks to Kirk before they begin their climatic fist fight in the “Space Seed” episode, he says this. “I am surprised how little improvement there has been in human evolution. Oh, there has been technical advancement, but how little man himself has changed.”

    Khan had just emerged from nearly two centuries of hibernation to find humans much the same as when he entered a deep sleep back in the 1990s (yes, its dated a bit.)

    Here’s to the animals.


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