Wasps, Dogs and Price Fixing?

Wasps, Dogs and Price Fixing: Learn A Lesson From the Underdogs.

There is a deck on the back of my house, beneath which giant weeds from prehistoric times still flourish. I am quite certain that, due to their unbelievable size, these weeds must hail from the days of the dinosaurs … unless, of course, they are the midnight germination efforts of some otherworldly beings that mean us ruin in the form of strangulation by undergrowth. And though my yard care efforts lack seriousness in some regards, (I break down and battle this particular weed garden only once per year), I can hardly believe that average weeds left to reach full potential can realistically reach a second-story deck floor, which is what these particular specimens do.

But I digress, this tale is not about the weeds at all, but of something totally unrelated, that I happened to think about while partaking in my annual weed-eating battle with my trusty Snapper in hand. Alas, it is actually a wasp that we have to thank for this submission.

You see, as I wailed my weed-eater through the heavy foliage ‘neath the shadow of the deck, I was surprised (and completely infuriated) by the sting of a wasp on the back of my neck. "Son of a b****" was my reply, swinging the Snapper in an upward arc, as though I was actually going to hit the F-16 of the stinging bug world with one of the spinning, frayed pieces of purple string. I rubbed my neck, cursing the existence of wasps in general and wondering what they possibly contribute to planetary life when a thought hit my mind. How absolutely brave did that little SOB have to be to make his move on me like he did? If you think about it, it really is incredible. To him, a miniscule little thing clinging to his nest below my deck, I must have looked like an inconceivable mass of destruction. A huge, lumbering giant, emitting the high-pitched whine of a small two-stroke that shouldn’t be running on race gas, swinging a gnarly looking weapon and slinging redwood-sized alien plant life in every possible direction. And yet, even though my perceived presence seemed insurmountable, somewhere in his tiny wasp brain, that kid figured out that my attention was focused forward, and my vulnerable spot was left open for attack.

That got me thinking about the day that Max became the King of the neighborhood. Max was my dad’s German shorthair pointer. A few houses down the road there lived a collie named King, who likely came from the same planet as my deck weeds. He was huge — perhaps close to 200 pounds, which certainly meant that, though King looked like a collie, he was actually a crossbreed baring the genetics of a woolly mammoth somewhere along the line.

Back in those days, the dogs of the neighborhood would spend their days running together in a pack, chasing rabbits, deer and young children through the hundreds of acres of uninterrupted woods that still made up the rural Missouri landscape. Of those dogs, Max and King were the biggest and there were many occasions when local good Samaritans would pull King from the top of a bloody Max after a good ole’ dog fight. The problem for Max was obvious … he was a smaller, short-haired dog trying to gain ground on a giant, fur-covered beast upon which he could bite only hair. A lesser dog would have stayed on the porch, so to speak, but Max was not that kind of guy.

In the dog-days of August, on a day that seemed hotter than Satan’s belch, I was mowing the brown remnants of my parent’s lawn when I saw the entire pack of neighborhood dogs racing through. As usual, Max and King were in the lead barking as though there were in hot pursuit of something big. I didn’t give much thought to the sight, considering the commonplace nature of it all, until I saw them come back through in the opposite direction an hour or so later. This time, Max was in the lead and King, not to be outdone, seemed to be giving everything he had to stay on his heels.

Had my parent’s yard been smaller, I likely would have missed the finale of that hot day’s events, but as fate would have it, an hour later I was still mowing dust when the pack came back through. Max raced into the yard with the vigor of a puppy, and King was giving all he had to hold a slow trot in trail. With the mercury well into the triple digits, I actually stopped the mower in concern for the big collie and started to climb off when I realized what was happening. Max darted around in front of King in the yard, racing from side to side almost playfully, charging at the giant dog and then turning at the last second to circle him and come back again.

King began to growl, this I could hear plainly with the mower silent and a large snarl turned his lips up as his white teeth barred in fury of the taunting he was being dealt. Max circled the big collie several more times, on each charging front, then darted away with lightning speed as the smaller dogs and I looked on. King was absolutely pissed, but it was plain to see, with his tongue dangling low between snarls and the heaving of his sides in pant, he had nothing to give. Apparently Max saw that too, and I have to think that was exactly what he had intended.

Max charged again, this time cutting right and then back left and making his move, he seized King’s neck, (just like the wasp, you see) and bowled him to the ground. The bigger dog let out a loud yelp before his aggression returned, replacing the momentary squeak of pain with a boisterous uprising of hate. The two dogs rolled together a single time before Max was back on his feet with one of King’s ears in his mouth, thrashing his head side to side as only dogs can do. The big collie shrieked out, I think more in disbelief than in pain, and Max dove on top of him again, this time seizing the underside of his neck and pinning him to the ground. The giant collie had nothing more to give, and the shorthair had finally become victorious, using his brains to whip the monster collie by realizing that his greatest asset (all of that hard-to-bite-through hair), was, on the right day also his greatest weakness.

In my own defense, I did rush to the collie’s aid, (albeit after the fight), and patched up his ear, gave him water, then took him home. I’m not heartless, but I was thrilled to see my dog earn his biggest victory that day. I later noticed that I never again saw King running with the pack.

There is a lesson to be learned from Max and the wasp that might serve us all well in the coming years. Should the OEMs decide to exercise their newly bestowed right to price fix, (made available by the Supreme Court’s summer ruling to dissolve the old anti-trust laws), we will essentially see a shaking of the snow globe in the powersports industry. Many of the mega-store price-sellers who found their success in selling below invoice will suddenly struggle to maintain distant business. A localizing of the markets will re-emerge, since the customer will be guaranteed the same price regardless of where he or she shops. There would no longer be a need for customers to travel, unless we don’t provide for them locally. This, my friends, is an opportunity for smaller dealerships to recognize the bare neck, the overly thick fur or whatever Achilles’ heel the monster competitor has. It could well be that the Supreme Court has just shaved that collie for you, opening a can of opportunity to regain the former price-shoppers and increase your bottom line. Of course, I did kill the entire nest of wasps later that day, but don’t let that discourage you. After all … Max went out on top.

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