Tuesday, May 16, 2006

My Grandma Vs. The Bees

Dave posted about his problem w/ wasps, and that reminded me about a story my dad told when I was growing up. It's pretty funny, so I thought I would share.

Now, my dad is in his 80's. So, he grew up in the depression, etc. In the mid to late '30's, they were living out in the country on a farm outside Eugene, Oregon. They had the traveling vacuum salesman in that day, and one day my grandpa splurged and bought my grandma one of those Electrolux canister vacuums when the vacuum guy came calling.

My grandma was ecstatic. She'd never had a vacuum cleaner before, and thought that this electric machine was some sort of mythical wonder.

One day, my dad and his brother were going out the back door, and unbeknownst to them, a swarm of yellow jackets had built a nest above the door. So, the slamming of the screen door irritated the bees, and they attacked, stinging the kids. They ran inside, told their mom what had happened, and an idea formed in her head. If the vacuum sucked up everything else, why couldn't it suck up the bees? Problem solved!

So, she snuck outside with her wonder machine, stuck the nozzle up to the hive, and turned on the vacuum. Confused and angry bees came zooming out of the hive, trying to figure out what the noise was, and the minute they appeared.....*ZOOP*....up the vacuum they went. My grandma was SO proud of herself, and in a few minutes, the bees were dispatched into the inner sanctum of her beloved vacuum.

Only, apparently they weren't dead. She could hear them buzzing around angrily inside. Hmm...this posed a huge problem. She would not be able to clean out the vacuum w/o being attacked by a swarm of violated bees. And....what if they figured out how to fly up the hose??

Oh no, now she was starting to panic....what to do??

So, she thought about it, and decided that maybe she should try to find something to kill the bees while they were still inside the vacuum. She set about finding various rat poisons, cleaning solvents, any version of powdered death she could find. She poured a little of each onto the ground and set about vacuuming up each little pile, figuring ONE of the powders would kill the bees.

Meanwhile, my dad's cocker spaniel had wandered over, and sat a distance away, watching the proceedings w/ a wary eye.

Now, my grandma did not take into consideration what might happen if you mix various chemicals, and then apply heat....like the heat of the motor of the vacuum. She started sucking up the different powders, when all of the sudden.....


The canister of the vacuum went flying like a missile across the yard, disengaging itself from the hose my grandma was holding. She stood there, holding the limp hose, watching in open mouthed astonishment as the canister flew across the yard and hit their cocker spaniel square in his little cocker butt.

He jumped up in the air a few feet, and went yelping out into the field, terrorized by the flying vacuum of death.

My grandma was crushed. Not only had she destroyed her precious vacuum, and caused said vacuum to attack her dog, but she was unsure if she had actually even managed to KILL the bees. She wasn't about to go check, so she left the smoking canister where it landed, and went inside, dejected.

When my grandpa got home, she tearfully told him what had happened, and he alternated from laughing hysterically to being upset that she'd destroyed something which had cost him a lot of money. He figured he'd better go see if she actually accomplished killing the bees, and cautiously crept up to the canister. A few bees were buzzing drunkenly around it, but they seemed dazed. He figured he could probably move the canister, so he got a bag, put the canister in it, and took it out to a far field where he dumped it.

He eventually got my grandma another vacuum, with the strict instructions that she NEVER try anything like that again.

Only problem was, that whenever she decided to vacuum, the dog would go TEARING out of the house, yelping all the way, and wouldn't return for a few hours.

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