Alex Taylor Column September 21, 2008

Domestic terrorism is my greatest challenge

Warning: This tale of love and marriage, terrorism and politics may be disturbing to some people.

Ever since 9/11 brought the specter of terrorism to the forefront of our lives, it is hard to turn anywhere without thinking about it. Plots seem to be hatched in all corners of the country and all corners of the globe.

I find it miraculous that since the attacks of 9/11 there have been no new successful terrorist plots carried out in America — at least not by Islamic extremists. One thing the Department of Homeland Security cannot protect us from, however, is domestic terrorism — the kind of terrorism that is sometimes hatched right here at home — literally. This story provides us all an important lesson to be learned in freedom, personal property and marital politics.

Allow me to explain.

It all started Monday afternoon when I walked into my office after a noon meeting. There sitting on my secretary’s desk was a square cardboard box addressed to me. It was from someone named Steve Miller in Perrysburg, Ohio. I’d never heard of the man or the place.

I have, however, been in the newspaper business for years. One of my occupational hazards is always being on the lookout for suspicious packages. Over the years, some reporters and editors have received such goodies as anthrax or pipe bombs or farm waste or all of the above. I know enough not to just open things without consideration.

This box looked suspicious. So, I called the fire department to see if maybe they had a dog that could come sniff it. The lady at the front desk said I would have to call 911. I said that sounded like overkill, but she transferred me to 911. I explained the situation.

“Are you requesting the bomb squad?” they asked. I said I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it; I was just hoping someone could come swab it like they do in airports. That would require the bomb squad, they said.

“OK then,” I said. “Send over the bomb squad. But if possible just tell them that this is probably nothing, I’m just playing it safe.” Within two minutes, two officers pulled up on their motorcycles and came to my office.

The employees noticed. Is the boss getting arrested? Soon, they could see that we were discussing this suspicious box.

Then five officers arrived, and a fire truck, and some TV reporters and, of course, The Daily Sentinel’s own reporters. It was out over the scanner — the bomb squad was being called out to the Sentinel. Word began to spread around the building. A bomb expert arrived. People began putting their ears to the side of the box to listen for a ticker. None of us knew what to think. All we knew is that it was from a stranger far away.

The bomb guy decided that we would have to X-ray this box. So they brought in an X-ray device and deemed it safe to open the box carefully. Employees peered over their cubes. Officers took a step back. TV reporters waited anxiously outside.

Inside the box was something green and yellow. The inspector looked at it quizzically and then grabbed hold of it and pulled it out. Hanging from his hand was one of my beloved duck hunting jackets from years past. Oh Lord, what have I done, I thought.

Then I put the pieces together. My dearest wife, Greer, recently informed me that the garage was getting too crowded and if I insisted on buying new duck hunting gear for the upcoming season, I would have to get rid of some of the older stuff. I vehemently disagreed and challenged her to point out anything I had that was more than what I absolutely needed.

She threw opened a cabinet door in the garage and pointed out what looked like a portrait of the evolution of the last 20 years of Cabela’s duck hunting jackets. Starting with traditional army camo from the oldest jacket, we moved from left to right —  jacket by jacket. Advantage camo, Wetlands Advantage Camo,

Mothwing, Mossy Oak, Real Tree, ShadowGrass, Breakup, new Breakup and finally Max 4-HD — the best.

“These are all necessary,” I said. Perhaps, but she pointed out a glitch. There were two identical Wetlands Advantage camo jackets. She stared at me. The blood ran from my face. I had no comeback.

“We’re getting rid of it,” she said. I protested vigorously and said she was treading dangerously close to a full-scale war.

But one day when I was at work, she sold it on eBay— to Steve Miller in Ohio. It didn’t fit and he sent it back. She had put my office address as the return address for security reasons.

That’s how this package wound up on my secretary’s desk under the scrutiny of the GJPD and our local bomb squad. It was the worst form of domestic terrorism — a wife terminating a man’s relationship with his duck hunting jackets.

In this case, thank goodness, the terrorism plot was foiled and the jacket is back in my garage. Although, now that I’ve been married about a year and a half, I’m coming to realize that sometimes domestic terrorist plots are successful.

By the way, if you’re looking for a duck jacket, there’s one for sale in the Nickel right now.


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