Cattleman outwits automated urinal

Back pain is the bane of many farmers and ranchers. A life of lifting, riding, shifting and physical exertion often leads them to a long-term relationship with osteopathic surgeons.

Last spring, Colorado rancher Evan suffered through the spring branding and the state cattlemen’s meeting before making his doctor appointment.

As his wife was checking him in, he excused himself to the rest room. Even pulling the door open was a strain. Unzipping the barn door made him wince.

Ah … relief. Then closure. He looked down and a sharp pain shot from his left ear down the back of his neck. His face contorted and the left lens fell out of his glasses. Leaning to the side for a quick glance, he broke the laser beam and the automatic flush mechanism fired off, gurgling, flooding and sucking water out of the wall-mounted unit.

Evan straightened, looked down in the well and saw his lens floating at the bottom of the pool.

“Oh, halla-loo-ya!” he thought, then reached down to pluck it out. Which, of course, activated the auto flush again … slosh, gurgle, gulp.

A pain shot down his sciatic nerve, causing him to arch backward, firing off the auto flush again, but he caught a glimpse of the lens burbling in the white water.

An idea slid into his tormented mind. He backed up, and with the caution of a man unfolding an origami duck, he dropped to one knee, then to the other, then to his paws. Stealthily Evan snuck up on the evil white porcelain monster, staying well below the auto flush laser beam.

Using his tactile memory he raised his right arm, cocked his wrist and reached into the quiet pool. The aperture admitted only two fingers. He explored the sidewalls and felt the lens up in the ascending ceramic pipe.

“OK!” he said. Many facial contortions accompanied his digital efforts but the lens was hard to hold on to. He considered asking one of the nurses at the desk for a 6-inch curved forcep to extract the missing lens, but he dismissed the idea thinking it would make him look “less than professional.”

He was absorbed in deep concentration when suddenly the bathroom door swung open and a large man walked quickly behind him to the next wall unit. Evan looked around in surprise, pinching a nerve, as the stranger’s movement broke the red beam and cracked the automatic flush bazooka.

Trapped in the slooshing whirlpool, Evan managed to grasp the lens. He pulled it out, then raised his dripping fingers and sodden shirtsleeve in victory.

The stranger peered over the divider at the pitiful demented figure crouching on his knees and grinning like a lopsided duckbill platypus.

Evan opened his mouth to speak … winced, then simply said, “…never mind.”