Often visiting school groups here will have campfires for their kids after dark, and last night it was my job to make sure the fire was really, truly, completely out before I went to bed. (They have a nasty habit of re-igniting during the night if the wind comes up.) By nine-thirty, the students were back in the dorm packing and getting ready for bed, but several parent chaperons were still socializing around the fire. Fine with me; I watched TV in the staff lounge and poked my head out the door during commercials to see if they were done yet, in no hurry as long as I had a new episode of Bones to keep me entertained.
The third or fourth time I peeked outside, though, I spotted a pair of raccoons raiding the garbage cans in the pavilion. I hate raccoons, at least when they’ve become habituated to humans and raid garbage cans and make messes, so I stomped across the deck toward them yelling “Go away! Go away!” and waving my arms until the two mangy vermin finally fled toward the bushes. I watched them disappear and then turned toward the fire circle.
The parents had heard my shouting and stomping and were now watching me with alarm. “We’re – we’re sorry,” the said. “We’re going now. We swear. See, look, we’re pouring the water on the fire and everything.”
I did my best to convince them I’d been talking to the raccoons, not them. They believed me… mostly.