Duped … Again?

I answered the clanging phone as it finished its third clang. I offered up my usual salutation and instantly recognized the voice of the caller. Loved by only a few and feared by most, it was none other than Johnny “The Mooch” Rago. We had not spoken in almost a year, and in some odd way, I was pleased to hear from him.

“So, Hill,” he began, “how are you? It’s been a while since we last talked. How come you never call me? I’m starting to think maybe you don’t like me anymore.”

I don’t necessarily dislike the “Mooch,” but a guy like him comes with some baggage. And there’s a good reason his nickname is “Mooch”… if you know what I mean.

“Well, I’ve been pretty busy lately, Mooch, and now that you’ve moved to Indiana, I guess it’s just one of those out-of-sight, out-of-mind things. You know how it goes. But what’s on your mind today?”

“I’m calling you, Hill, to point out the error of your ways once again. You see, not only am I convinced that you’re going soft, but I’m also becoming convinced that your condition is worse than I thought.”

Long ago, I came to realize that the Mooch is one of those “a knock is as good as a boost” characters. You know the kind. They feel that putting other people down somehow elevates themselves. I’ve known others like this and, in reality, they are a bit pathetic. For sure, they can be annoying, but I kind of feel sorry for them.

“Okay, Mooch. Let’s hear it.”

“You’re gonna hear it ‘cause I’m worried about you. I’m hoping it’s not too late to get you back on track. By the way, I am not the only one concerned. Others have also noticed your decline.”

“Go ahead.”

“To start with, Hill, there was that whole honey bee thing. Remember, you wrote an article about the upcoming bee apocalypse. Then you sent an e-mail to all of your friends asking them to donate to that POP (Pollinate or Perish) campaign because, reportedly, all the bees were dying off, and no one knew why. You even convinced your granddaughter Maggie to put beehives on the roof of your daughter’s office building. Now we find out
the whole thing was a hoax brought on by the media. I looked it up, Hill. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports there are 600,000 more hives today than there were ten years ago. There was never a bee apocalypse. You were DUPED.”

“Hold on a minute Mr. Mooch. First, I never wrote an article about the bee thing and never asked anyone to donate money to any ‘save the bees program’ or any other program. My granddaughter started her beehives on her own and produced some incredible honey. While it is true that I took the reports of the bee apocalypse seriously and was a bit concerned, let’s keep the facts of my actions-or non-actions-accurate.”

“But you did believe the story, didn’t you, Hill? You were duped!”

If nothing else, the Mooch is relentless, and if he thinks he has spotted a weakness, he is like a shark that has smelled blood in the water. I knew there was more to come.

“Okay, so I guess I believed the story and was concerned, but I did not go overboard about it like you suggested, Mooch.”

“And what about the giant potato, Hill? You were duped there too, now, weren’t you? You bought that story, and you wanted to believe it. I think maybe because you are Irish. Am I wrong?”

“Are you talking about the New Zealand farmers who dug up a 17.4-pound potato and thought they had eclipsed the old world record of 11 pounds?”

“That’s the one, Hill. And then, when they sent it to the Guinness World Record people, a DNA test proved that it was not really a potato at all but some kind of gourd or something. You know you believed that story and shared it with all of your crazy Irish friends. And once again, you were duped.”

“You might have me on this one, Mooch. However, the story was in a lot of newspapers and even on TV news reports. So why wouldn’t I believe it?”

“Hill, aren’t you the same guy who has written articles about fake news and the media not being trustworthy? Just admit it … you were duped again. I’m telling you … you’ve lost it.”

“Alright, Mooch. Unless you have something else you want to talk about, I need to get back to work. I’ve got a column due, and you’re taking up a lot of valuable time here with your nonsense.”

“You know, Hill, I probably should have gotten involved in the glass industry years ago. If everyone is as easily duped as you are, I could have made a lot of money. What do you think? Am I right?”

“Only one thing to say to that, Mooch. Now you’re duping yourself!”

Lyle R. Hill is president of Glass.com®, an information portal and job generation company for the glass industry. Hill has more than 50 years’ experience in the glass and metal industry and can be reached at lhill@glass.com.

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