Home Around Town Blue Star
Blue Star

Blue Star


By Scott Sullivan


Pawternity Leave

The silly season — Halloween, followed by elections — is over. Time for another. Fall fruits ferment as brains revel in late colors before the freeze.

“I need a pawternity leave,” I told The Boss.


“Enlightened workplaces now offer paid leaves to employees who adopt new pets.”

“What ‘enlightened’ workplaces?”

“Two so far. The Musti Group, a large Nordic pet food company, and Nina Hale, a Minneapolis marketing firm.’”

“Do you have a new pet?”

“I have old ones — all of whom suffer, as I do, from lack of quality time together because I am always working.”

“I never see you working.”

“My productivity’s been impaired by the emotional debt I’m feeling.”

“I’ll give you debt: a forever leave with no paycheck.”


Time for a different tack. “What do we do,” I asked, “now elections are over?”


“The air should be fresher. But what do we write about?”


“That would be different.”

“Lacking that, campaigns have already started for the next election.”

“See why I want a pawternity leave? Nina Hale vice president Allison McMeninem, asked about the firm’s new ‘fur-ternity’ policy, said, ‘This is kind of a no-brainer.’”

“Kind of?”

“Nina Hale lets employees work at home while they and their pets get to know each other. Why require office time when you can work via Internet?”

“At home you’re distracted by cleaning up messes and trying to appease beasts around you.”

“That’s what I do at the office.”

“Except here we clean up your messes and you P.O. people.”


Time for a new angle. “Did you know,” I asked, “that Montague has a pumpkin-rolling contest? For years kids rolled gourds down the Dowling street hill and watched with delight as they smashed at the bottom.”

“What a riot.”

“Between that and the World’s Largest Weather Vane, fun never ends in Montague. Add it to your bucket list.”

“I’ll cross it off in advance.”

“Pumpkin-rolling used to be illegal there. No more. Mayor Henry Roesler, who smashed them as a boy, this year founded a legal roll.”

“The Mayor confessed to criminal acts?” asked The Boss in horror. “What’s next? A President admitting he put marijuana to his lips, but did not inhale? A Supreme Court nominee saying he may have ‘fallen asleep’ while drinking as a youth but didn’t ‘black out’?”

“Statues of limitation expire but guilt lasts forever. What better way to atone than making your ex-crime legal?”

“Are you suggesting government heads are ridiculous?”

“Not just government ones.”

“That if you take a pawternity leave, you can train your dogs, cats, birds and bunnies to do your job?”

Who’d have thought he’d send invitations the next day for all of them to apply? Even my pet rock?

“What do you hope to achieve by this?” I asked.

“Competence. An employee who’s housebroken.”


This wasn’t working out either. “Let’s discuss Oak Park lifting its clown costume ban this year just before Halloween,” I said.

“Thank God. Creepy clowns were yesterday. Now there are PFA’s and new fears to relish.

“Did you know my uncle was one?”

“What, a PFA?”

“No, a clown. He wore a green wig, tied balloon animals and rode scooters in Shriners parades.”

“The fruit didn’t fall far from the tree.”

“My Dad didn’t do that. He had his hands full with me and my three brothers.”

“The horror …”

“What about my leave?”

“There’s the door. Don’t come back,” he said.