Here's a story from Canadian fossil collector Frank Habets of the
"Rocks and Fossils" mailing list. As one of my roommates in college used
to say, "There's nothing like someone elses misery to take one's mind
off your own." It was submitted in response to an invitation to tell
about one's worst day collecting.
Part of Kuban's K-Paleo Place (humor section)
Bad Day at Black Rock
By Frank Habets
Ottowa, Canada. The time was mid-day and the last vestiges of snow had
finally turned to briny mud. I was new at collecting...and decided to
trek around the city perimeter
in search of black shale outcrops. To my utter amazement, I spotted a
huge mountain of shale at the far end of a desolate field. The walk to
the mountain proved to be annoying, as this field was covered in mud.
At first the mud was ankle deep, but grew even deeper as I progressed.
As I neared the mountain, I began to suspect that what I had first
thought to be shale was in fact just more mud. Still, the presumed
rocks beneath it might prove productive, I thought, so I merrily
trudged on. By now, the mud was knee-deep and hard to negotiate. But
not too far away was one of a series of bounders leading to the
mountain's edge. The plan: get off/out of that damn mud by playing
bounder hop-scotch the rest of the way. And so I jumped on the first
big rock. But it wasn't a rock. It was in fact a huge
ice-dirt-salt-sludge ball. My eyes were finally opened. This
mountain, it turns out, was literally the tip of an urban iceberg--the
consequence of clearing billions of pounds of snow and slush from city
streets throughout the winter and amassed here in this pit. But I
didn't feel like walking back through the mud. I noted that I could
jump from sludge ball to sludge ball all the way to the left side of
the field. Wrong. One of these bastards caved in under my weight, and
I crashed right through it. I was up to my chest in that evil muck and
slush, and seemed to sinking lower and lower as I tried to get out.
But I did get out, eventually--minus my pants and shoes, buried in the
ice-slime for some archaeologist to discover thouands of years from
now. I walked back to my home with my spring jacket tied around my
waist, trying hard to look normal. What pissed me off above all was
that I was coming back empty-handed.
I sent Frank a reply telling him he had won the award for the best
Bad-Collecting Day story, and that he had won it hands--or rather