Pinky swear… remember? Did you ever go back on that? Promises are cheap credit… especially if you are the one making the promise. You can live for a long time on your own promises if you are fast enough to stay ahead of the game. Ask any lawyer. There are people out there who make tremendous promises in business, only to declare insolvency, leave their creditors waiting, and then open up shop by another name. “We stand on our name”…At least the one we are currently using.
In business promises are called guarantees. Statistically few people pursue payback, so a guarantee in theory can be good business. It looks forthright, but even municipalities can get fleeced. I am thinking of the year that we got the green bins that were racoon-proof… guaranteed. They were however, not performing according to promise, and no one would pony up to it until a home owner FILMED raccoons getting into the bin. Now that was impressive, because the inventor had come up with a complex opening mechanism that would require a bit of human logic to get past. Apparently hungry racoons possess enough of that to get beyond the latching mechanism and into your trash. I don’t believe I heard any news of a municipal refund...
This all comes to mind because of my current bird feeder. Guaranteed squirrel-proof. It has a conical lid that requires some pressure and a backward twist to pop it off. You can’t just screw it open. The conical lid is also premised to be slippery enough that the squirrel will fall down before he gets into the seed. Moreover, there is a gravity mechanism, whereby the weight of the squirrel pulls down the housing of the feeder over the feed ports. The squirrel will be foiled.. in theory at least.
However, promises are cheap. Either that or they did not observe the feeder in real life. I was putting out oodles of bird seed only to find it gone almost overnight. Those must be some hungry birds, I thought. Or.. I was feeding more than the birds. And so I paid more attention next time I filled it up.
This is what I saw: the squirrel had figured out how to hang by its hind feet while messing with the lid, trying to pop it off. It required patience, but I suspect a squirrel has a bit of time on its hands. And so it did, experimenting back and forth trying to jimmy the top. Eventually it succeeded. Then it sat atop of the feeder and dug in, hand over fist.
I chased the squirrel away, Then reclosed the lid making sure it was on tight. Maybe I had not closed it properly last time. I watched the next frustrated squirrel wrestle with the feeder. Every time it tried to make for the feed ports, its weight pulled the holes closed. I laughed and went back to work. Suckers. Try that one on, squirrels.
The next day all the feed was gone…. again. And so I filled it up and tried to observe what was going on outside. The squirrels had figured out that the foil on the feeder was activated by body weight. One had swung the feeder close enough to the tree, to hold onto the bark with its weight resting on the tree. Minus body weight, it easily dug into the feed ports. Squirrels apparently have enough logic to get ahead of a squirrel-proof mechanism. To add insult to injury, they also know how to work in teams. This squirrel had a partner down below, patiently waiting. It would shake the feeder so that an appreciable amount of seed would simply fall down to the ground. Squirrels are smart enough to divide up a task into different but complementary functions it would seem. They emptied the feeder... yet again.
Paying more attention, I also discovered that my feeder was the target of clever racoons. One morning I woke up and saw the feeded had been hauled up by unseen hands, and wedged into the crook of some branches. The lid was off and it was of course, empty. I say racoons because I assume squirrels are not strong enough to haul up a fullly loaded feeder. I did not see the racoons... but the result was the same.
Guaranteed indeed. Whoever said that did not anticipate entropy, sometimes known as Murphy’s Law. Nature finds a way and survival is a strong instinct. So, be careful of promises. They always sound good. But those who promise don’t know nature. Or maybe they are really working for the people selling bird seed.
Will I ask for my money back? Unlikely. Want to buy my bird feeder? It’s squirrel proof, guaranteed. Pinky swear. I promise. I can even show you the guarantee in writing.