It was a trip to the Hilltown Diner in Rensselaerville so it had to be a dark and stormy night…that is the rule for Rensselaerville. The Old Men of the Mountain knew that this Tuesday April 21st would be a dark and stormy night because the Hilltown Diner was the restaurant for that date. Still the restaurant was full. It seems that each time the Hilltown Diner is the restaurant of the rotation the weather is a challenge.

One of the topics for this morning was a subject we rarely touch upon. This scribe does not remember (remember we are the OLD Men of the Mountain) using this in a report ever, and it has to do with one of the lower traits of human nature and that is thievery.

The OF’s ran across this in most of the places they worked, some to quite a serious extent, and the stories told were first hand accounts, and some of the reactions to it. Some, in fact many, of the OF’s have had an occurrence of more or less honest thievery. That is the kind where (as one OF put it) a certain tool is being used that belongs to the company and is being used often. One day when going home the tool is left in the car or truck as usual, only the job is done and the tool is no longer required. The tool is then left in the vehicle and eventually the one using the tool says, “Where did this thing come from?” This happens all the time. We included lending tools to neighbors who keep forgetting to bring it back or maybe the neighbor doesn’t recognize the tool and can’t remember where it came from. The same thing occurs with books and garden supplies. This actually happens both ways. One day a neighbor is working in his yard and breaks a shovel handle, so he goes next door and borrows the neighbor’s shovel. The next door neighbor doesn’t need the shovel for quite awhile and when he goes for it he can’t find it and thinks he left it someplace and then he goes out and purchases a new one. Then the neighbor that had to purchase the shovel is using his loppers and they break, so he goes and borrows his neighbor’s. That neighbor does not need the loppers for awhile and when he does the same thing happens. He can’t find them and figuring they have really been misplaced he goes and purchases another pair. It is a wash. This type of unintentional thievery is not what the OF’s were talking about.

The subject was concerning people who sneak gas, or stash away a tool so they can pick it up later. Even the deliberate stealing of time entered into this discussion. Some workers may hide away someplace so that what is supposed to be done doesn’t get done, and then overtime kicks in. This was the major thrust of the discussion. One OF mentioned that at times the ones doing the proliferating set it up to look like someone else was doing it. Then the tough talk came in the conversation with some saying the perpetrator trots off to church on Sunday and takes up the collection. The OF’s supposes this happens and mentioned it that way, but no one really knew for sure. The OF’s were pretty sure it might have taken place and were wondering how they could do that in good conscience. The OF’s mentioned the stealing of time was just as bad as the stealing of something tangible. With some serious soul searching the OF’s say they are guilty of some of these things, and with the age/memory change this lending and borrowing syndrome may get worse. From what the OF’s understand there is no real cure for this age/memory problem. This whole discussion on thievery was a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black. By the way, looking at most of the OF’s physical appearance shows that we are the pots.

We did discuss other things; most were redundant, however, the discussion on cuts and bruises was a little different. When the OF’s were young and in their prime we hardly noticed bumps and scrapes or even gashes. Back then the OG’s would get a welt, or the blood would run from a wound for a minute or two, and if hurt early enough in the day by evening the cut or scratch had already begun to scab over. Today it is quite different. Most of the OG’s are on aspirin, plus blood thinners; now if the OG’s unfortunately get a bump or a welt, or a cut, the bump tunes black and yellow, and blue and green and becomes the size of a dinner plate in a matter of seconds. The cuts start to bleed immediately and will bleed for a week. Then when it does start to scab over the OG will knock the fragile scab off and it will start to bleed again. Shaving can be like deliberately going into a war zone and the OF’s have to be as careful as if they were maneuvering their way through a live ammunition drill, crawling under barbed wire, on knees, elbows, hips and stomach. One little slip with the razor gets a nick and the red gushers flow and now a piece of toilet paper doesn’t work…the OG’s need a whole roll. To some of the OF’s there is a simpler solution…Grow a Beard.

On a different theme the conversation centered around words that make the OG’s cringe when they hear them because they don’t mean a thing. Number one was “dialogue”, number two “proactive”, and number three “green”. The OF’s add the word “phony” after people that continually use these words. One OF said “Those people are hiding behind the word hip, and dodging the word sincerity.”

Those attending the breakfast at the Hilltown Diner in Rensselaerville and using common-sense language were: Dave Williams, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Ted Pelkey, Miner Stevens, Skip Skinner, Robie Osterman, Bob Snyder, Alvin Latham, George Washburn, Don Moser, Arnold Geraldsen, Jim Rissacher, Mike Willsey, Dennis White, Harold Guest, Ted Willsey, and me.