Scumbag, maybe, but not for taking flood pictures

Most of what follows is essentially true.

My old friend Freddie Wickham called me this morning. “I hear you had some bad flooding there,” he said. “How you doin’?”

We’re fine in my neighborhood, I told him. We were very fortunate.

“Count your blessings, Mr. Smith,” he said, quoting our fourth grade teacher, Sister Mary Holycard. I laughed, recalling her advice for almost all occasions.

I count them daily, Sister, I said.

“I also saw your Tweeter thing about not needing no stinking pain pills,” he said. “What’s that about?”

Twitter, Freddie. Not Tweeter. I didn’t know you were into that sort of thing.

“Kids,” he said. “My kids got me into it. Actually, their kids got them into it and they made me try it so they don’t have to call me on the phone. Tweeter tells me what they’re doing. I’ve been following your ‘tweets’ under an assumed name. So what’s with the pain pills?”

I really don’t need them, I told him. I had some minor abdominable surgery a couple of days ago and they told me I’d want these pain pills so the wife picked them up for me and I’m not having any pain. She accused me of flirting with the nurses.

“You probably were flirting with the nurses,” he said.

Well, maybe a little….

“Hey, were you in the hospital that was flooded a couple of weeks ago? Mercy, was it?”

I assured him it was. Everything was nice and clean and smelling fresh, and the fillet knife, er, scalpel that the nice doctor used on me seemed to have been honed specially for the occasion. I have three holes in my belly to show for it, not that anyone would want me to actually show them.

“They must have done a super job cleaning that place up so fast,” Freddie said. I allowed as how it was nothing short of magnificent, but that I was disappointed about not getting to blog through the operation. The anesleepiologist thought it would be best to knock me out entirely and I didn’t argue with him.

Freddie’s voice took on a more serious tone. “I saw where some people are trying to profit off the flooding. Scumbags! Low-lifes! Or is it low-lives?”

Yeah, some people were arrested for allegedly scamming FEMA out of some money, and there were a few cases of what might be called looting.

“And then all those people gawking and taking pictures of wrecked houses and businesses and so on. What a lack of respect. They have no compassion for people’s suffering? What a bunch of scumbags.”

Hold on there, Freddie. I took some pictures. I even sold one to a magazine, with a little story about how some banks were damaged. Does that make me a profiteering scumbag?


I’m trying to make a living here, my old friend. And I confess to gawking and even taking pictures while filling sandbags. Multi-tasking, you know. I don’t think it’s fair to call anyone a scumbag just because they’re taking pictures.

“OK, you’re right,” Freddie said. “You’re not a scumbag just because you were taking pictures.”

Well, thank you, Freddie.

“But you’re still a scumbag.”

I don’t think I ever said I wasn’t, Freddie.

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