A number of important people sought me out at the luncheon. I assumed they wanted my opinion on grave matters of state. It turned out that they wanted to know about Jack and Jill. That hurt my feelings a bit. I have some really interesting opinions on grave matters of state.
When I got home, I called Jack and Jill out in Montana or Canada — I get those places mixed up — to let the two mules know that the movers and shakers in Cobb County were asking about them. Jill was pleased to hear the news. Jack didn’t seem to care. It was obvious he is still hitting the fermented oats pretty hard.
Most of you know the background on what was not one of Cobb County’s finest moments. Jack and Jill were purchased by the county in 2009 for $7,800 and were to be used for educational programs at Hyde Farm, but the project cratered because the county never came up with the money for necessary renovations to the farm.
Despite the fact that County Manager David Hankerson had opted to bring Jack and Jill to Cobb County from Alabama — with the commission’s approval — suddenly everyone got cold feet and nobody wanted to take responsibility for the decision. The mules were subsequently sold for $3,400 and banished to Montana or Canada or one of those places. Jack and Jill feel they deserved better. I do, too.
Jill wanted to know if Mr. Hankerson and any of the Cobb County commissioners were in attendance at the affair. I told her there was a big crowd there but I didn’t see them. She said they likely didn’t come because they figured she and her brother would be there and they would be too ashamed to look the two mules in the eye after the way they had treated the pair.
I didn’t have the heart to tell Jill that I doubted seriously officials of the Vinings Bank ever had the mules on their invitation list. They’ve had enough hurt without hearing that kind of thing.
Jill said Jack wanted to say something but warned me that he had consumed a large quantity of fermented oats. They had to quit work early because Jack couldn’t plow a straight line. From talking to him, it was obvious that he was pretty much sloshed. Jack asked if I ever saw Commissioner Bob Ott. I told him I did on occasion. Jack said to inform Mr. Ott, who is a Delta pilot in his day job, that he has organized a boycott of the airline by mules worldwide because the commissioner didn’t stand up for them when they needed him. I said I would tell him, but since most airlines discourage mules from flying — they can stink up an airplane — I didn’t think Mr. Ott was going to feel particularly threatened by the boycott.
Jack said he was still waiting for me to use my “considerable influence” — I could hear the sarcasm in his voice — with Gov. Roy Barnes to get him and his sister back to Cobb County and on Mr. Barnes’ cattle farm. I told him I would do my best but that the governor told me he already has some donkeys on site. Donkeys are great protection against coyotes — the things you learn at these gatherings! — and he wasn’t sure he had room for the two mules. Truth be told, I don’t think the governor wants to deal with Jack’s bad attitude.
Jack said he heard David Hankerson’s contract was up at the end of the year. I told him that was correct. I said I wasn’t sure but from what I read in Around Town, things seem to be up in the air regarding the county manager’s future. Jack hee-hawed and said if that Mr. Hankerson’s contract isn’t renewed, he has an open invitation to bunk in with them in Montana or Canada or wherever they are. Jack can get a little mean when he has been into the fermented oats.
Jill got back on the line. She said she had to go. Jack was sitting splay-legged on the floor and she had to get him sobered up and back to work or they might be sent back to Alabama. She said to give you all her regards.
In retrospect, it may be just as well that the good folks at the Vinings Bank didn’t invite Jack and Jill to Bill Shipp’s party. I’m surprised they invited me.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.