In The New Yorker.
Tuesday morning, Jillian from Disasters calls. Apparently an airman named Loolerton has poisoned a shitload of beavers. I say we don’t kill beavers, we harvest them, because otherwise they nibble through our Pollution Control Devices (P.C.D.s) and polluted water flows out of our Retention Area and into the Eisenhower Memorial Wetland, killing beavers.
“That makes sense,” Jillian says, and hangs up.
The press has a field day. “AIR FORCE KILLS BEAVERS TO SAVE BEAVERS,” says one headline. “MURDERED BEAVERS SPEAK OF AIR FORCE CRUELTY,” says another.
“We may want to PIDS this,” Mr. Rimney says.
I check the files: There’s a circa-1984 tortoise-related PIDS from a base in Oklahoma. There’s a wild-horse-related PIDS from North Dakota. Also useful is a Clinton-era PIDS concerning the inadvertent destruction of a dove breeding ground.
From these I glean an approach: I admit we harvested the beavers. I concede the innocence and creativity of beavers. I explain the harvesting as a regrettable part of an ongoing effort to prevent Pollution Events from impacting the Ottowattamie. Finally I pledge we’ll find a way to preserve our P.C.D.s without, in the future, harming beavers. We are, I say, considering transplanting the beaver population to an innovative Beaver Habitat, to be installed upstream of the Retention Area.
There's so much good in this story. I kind of want to quote the whole thing.
“Let me tell you a like parable,” Giff says. “This one girl in our church? Had this like perma-smile? Due to something? And her husband, who was non-church, was always having to explain that she wasn’t really super-happy, it was just her malady. It was like the happier she looked, the madder he got. Then he came to our church, guess what happened?”
“She was miraculously cured and he was miraculously suddenly not angry,” says Rimney. “God reached down and fixed them both, while all over the world people who didn’t come to your church remained in misery, weeping.”
“Well, no,” says Giff.
“And that’s not technically a parable,” says Verblin.