Marsha and I just had our biannual dental checkup.

On the way out I paid by credit card at the desk. I stuffed my card in the little machine and it read my numbers. The girl asked if I wanted a receipt and I said no. She went out back.

Before I could leave the window another girl came over and asked me if I wanted to pay now. I said I thought I already paid. But I’m not one to argue with women. Or men, for that matter.

She had me insert my credit card for the second time within two minutes. This girl gave me a printed-out bill. I told her that she might someday recall my words about thinking that I’d already paid.

As soon as I got home and printed off my Citibank charges, I had my proof. They billed me twice.

I have another appointment at that office next week. I’m going to put the credit card printout and this commentary into the hands of our new dentist who just bought the business. When he sees that his staff charged me twice for the same visit, he’ll probably ask me how else he can be expected to give them all a fat bonus at Christmas.



There was a time when you could avoid an unpleasant situation, like the draft, by hiring a substitute. My source tells me that during the Civil War each town had to send in a certain number of men to fight. It was an unpopular war here in a Democratic seafaring town. A war would raise the devil with shipping. In St. George the “smart” ones quickly joined the Navy. Others skedaddled to parts unknown if they couldn’t afford to hire a substitute. Why didn’t they want to fight? Fear of death, political reasons or both. My town had to borrow money to hire substitute recruits, from Maine or other states.

Some men served, and my grandfather put up a monument less than a mile from my home that tells of a cousin who perished in Andersonville Prison.

Today an enterprising person might become very wealthy if he or she were to hire out as a substitute for one of the most unpleasant situations of our age.

I am speaking, of course, about being the owner of a new automobile.

It would work like this. When you decide which automobile you want to buy, you pay your surrogate buyer a small commission to go in and buy the vehicle in his or her name.


For the next 10 or more years that person assumes the burden of hundreds of mailings and countless phone calls, telling them that this is absolutely the last notice they will get and that they have only 10 days left in which they can respond and purchase a warranty on their car’s electrical system.

A second benefit to anyone in the surrogate car owning business would be owning their own paper recycling center which would crush and bundle the warranty notices and ship them to a section of our country where they could be converted into a high fiber breakfast cereal.

Eating cereal made from paper is not out of the realm of possibilities, when you realize that some of our friends sipped bleach or ate horse medication when they were told that it would cure or prevent COVID.


We are fortunate in having our longtime friend, the big black dog, visit us this morning.

The dog is helpful. He is under the apple tree protecting us from marauding turkeys.


Marsha suggested I give Doggie a small slice of hambone that was in a plastic bag in the refrigerator so I took it out to him.

He is huge but very gentle and can be fed by hand without risking a finger. He jumped about like doggies do when I came out but suddenly sat at attention when he realized I had a hambone in my pocket.

I opened the package and started breaking up the meaty pieces before giving them to him because – you know big dogs – they chew nothing but swallow whole anything you give them.

I kept breaking it up and feeding him until I came to the last bit which I thought must be the bone. But even that was soft and he swallowed it without chewing.

A while later Marsha looked in the refrigerator. She said, “Here is the hambone in a plastic package. You just fed that dog a ham steak we were going to have for supper.”

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:

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