The following is one of the essays in my new book, A Dead Tomato Plant & A Paycheck. It first appeared here on the blog in 2006, but it is still fun to read today. Check it out, then check out the book for more fun reading.

In all honesty, most of us will have to admit to being overcome with childish fits of temper at one time or another in our lives. Whether it be frequently, occasionally, or twice a day, we have all given in to the urge to throw something across the room and watch it smash into a million pieces.

Although we all fall prey to this type of behavior, it really takes a big person to admit it, and that being the case, I’m going to tell you what this friend of ours once did.

(I certainly wouldn’t want to destroy my image by letting you know some of the things I’ve done.)

This friend, who shall remain nameless, got mad at his telephone one day. He was so mad that just slamming the receiver back in place was not enough to satisfy the primal urge, so he ripped it off the wall.

Then he threw it down on the floor and jumped on it a few times.

Then he kicked it around a bit, kind of stirring up the little pieces.

Then he picked up all the pieces and put them in a brown paper bag before he went to the neighbor’s house to call the telephone company. This was back in the days when the phone companies still owned the actual instruments and he was calling to report that his was broken. It was also back in the days before cell phones.

The girl in the service department told him she would have someone check the lines and get back to him.

“You don’t understand,” my friend said. “There’s no trouble on the lines. My telephone is broken.”

“Sir, do you mean the instrument itself is broken?”


“If you could be more specific, the repairman can bring the appropriate replacement parts.”

“Trust me. He really needs to bring a whole new unit.”

At this point, I would have skipped town and let someone else greet the repairman, but this friend is given to great shows of bravery in addition to his terrific temper tantrums. He acted as if it were nothing out of the ordinary to hand a repairman a bag of junk that used to be a telephone and tell him that a Mack truck ran over it.

Pretty good trick for a wall phone, but the repairman didn’t even ask.

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