Monday, January 22, 2018

THE CASE OF THE MYSTERIOUS BLACK POWDER



My dogs really enjoy a treat called “Oinkies” by Hartz Mountain ( I guess it’s just called “Hartz” now). Their favorite variety is the chicken-wrapped Oinkie, which, for some reason is the most difficult one to find – and probably explains why it’s my dogs' favorite…just so they can torment me.

So the other night, when I happened to see only ONE package of chicken-wrapped Oinkies in Wal-Mart, I grabbed it as excitedly as if I’d just found a gold nugget hanging on the display hook. Finding the Oinkies meant I actually would have some peace and quiet while my dogs chewed on them. No barking at each other or doing their best impersonations of Hulk Hogan and The Rock – no, just blissful Oinkie-chewing peace.

The first thing I did when I got home was grab the scissors and cut open the package of Oinkies, mainly because I wanted to watch the Hallmark romance movie of the week that was about to come on TV in five minutes, and the thought of hearing, “Darling I love you,” while two dogs were ripping the fur off each other in the background really didn’t appeal to me.

Well, the minute I cut into the package, there was a “poof!” and out came what looked like black powder. It went all over me, the kitchen counter and the floor. I had no clue what it was, but at first, I figured it had to be the remnants of a burnt Oinkie. I set down the scissors on the counter and then swept up the black powder. I decided, however, to brush a little of it onto a piece of white paper so I could get a closer look at it.

I put the paper on the counter, right next to where I’d set down the scissors, and what happened next convinced me I was hallucinating. The black powder started to move in the direction of the scissors!

“Oh, no!” I said out loud. “They’re bugs!”

Immediately, I began to itch all over.

I soon learned, however, the black powder wasn’t made up of a bunch of bugs – no, it was made up of something magnetic! The powder clung to the blade of the scissors and then stood up straight!  It reminded me of this game I had when I was a kid (and I’m going to show my age here) which consisted of a picture of a head of a hairless man, and you had to use this little magnetic wand-like device to drag tiny metal particles over his face to make things like hair and a mustache on him. The little particles stood up straight and looked just like hair – just like the black powder was doing on the scissors.

Immediately, I felt ill at ease. What was this mysterious black powder? Why was it magnetic? And how did it get into the package of Oinkies? Was it part of some distraught employee's fiendish act of revenge? And most of all, why did the perpetrator have to pick Oinkies as the catalyst for his diabolical plot? Couldn’t he have chosen something my dogs didn’t like?

The fact I’d been in the direct path of the powder when it came out of the package made me feel even more concerned. So just to be safe, and to help ease my mind, I called the non-emergency number of the local police and discussed it with them. They decided to send an officer to my house to check things out.

The officer, a tall, young, blue-eyed male-model type, arrived five minutes later – wearing vinyl gloves – which did little to help alleviate my fears. He was smiling, however. I wasn’t certain if it was because he was just a friendly guy…or he was amused that I thought someone might be using Oinkies as a weapon of mass destruction.

He examined the black powder. He examined every Oinkie individually. He even ran my scissors through the powder to test the magnetic pull.

“It looks like metal shavings from some kind of machinery,” he finally concluded. “I don’t think it’s anything to be concerned about. I mean, I really can’t think of anything that's black in color that’s dangerous.”

“Gun powder?” I dared to add.

“I definitely wouldn’t feed these treats to the dogs,” he said. Again, he smiled.

“If I were you, I’d take some photos, though,” he continued. “And I’d contact Hartz about it and also post it on social media to warn others.”  More smiling.

I was so busy staring at his blue eyes and toothpaste-commercial-worthy smile, I barely heard anything he said.

Anyway, after he left, I did take photos of the package and of the powder clinging to the scissors. 






Then I emailed everything to Hartz and am now waiting for them to get back to me. I’m hoping I will at least get reimbursed for the money I spent on the Oinkies. After all, I can’t very well bring a bag of black powder back to Wal-Mart and ask for a refund. I mean, the police officer could have been wrong and the powder actually is part of some diabolical plot.

And I really would hate to be responsible for wiping out an entire Wal-Mart.


I will keep you posted…



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