Chewing the fat inside a giant Wienermobile

“After realizing the size and scope of this assignment, I was feeling a little inadequate.”

After more than a decade of working in the high-pressure environment of our newsroom, where at any given moment you could find yourself surrounded by as many as two other journalists all typing at once, it takes a lot to get our adrenaline pumping.

In fact, we have been at the epi-center of the national spotlight three times here in Florence. Sure, two occasions came after being singled out as having the nation’s highest rate of … (yawn) … retirees.

But the third time involved REAL explosives.

And a dead whale.

And quite possibly an unlicensed demolitions expert going through a divorce. This would explain using half a ton of dynamite to dispose of a rotting whale carcass that washed ashore, and how one onlooker literally chewed the fat after being struck by a piece if flying whale blubber.

Hey, it was 1970! Whales didn’t have the safety features they have today! Even experts, with their fancy calculations for trajectory, explosive force, velocity, alcohol content, etc., couldn’t have anticipated a piece of whale fat, roughly the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, taking out an actual Volkswagen Beetle.

Because we are subjected to this kind of tension-filled atmosphere on a regular basis, last week, when a 27-foot-long Wienermobile rolled into town, we met it with the kind objectivity you’d expect from seasoned journalists who laugh in the face of high-velocity whale fat:

We immediately leaped from our chairs and simultaneously wedged ourselves in the doorway so tightly we had to be dislodge with a copy machine.

This left our editor with the difficult task of deciding who would cover this assignment. After taking into account experience, dedication and overall proximity to the door, she chose me to cover the giant Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. I have to admit, after seeing the size and scope of this story, I began to feel a little inadequate.

However, Wienermobile driver “Lots-of-Ketchup” Lisa assured me this reaction was very common.

She then took me on a tour of the Wienermobile, which can seat eight comfortably, or as many as 26 uncomfortably, depending on how strictly the seatbelt law is enforced in your area, particularly when it involves people riding on top of a 27-foot-long hot dog.

I know what you’re thinking:

How can I get a job like THAT?!?

OK, maybe it was just me.

But according to the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile website (www.hotdoggerblog.com), any college graduate who is “outgoing, creative, friendly, and who has an appetite for adventure” can be a candidate.

Having a good driving record also helps because, according to Lisa, in spite of its naturally aerodynamic design, handling a Wienermobile on the open road, and even proper waxing and buffing, takes practice, which is why drivers must attend special classes at “Hot Dog High,” and why, coincidentally, I am moving on to the next paragraph as quickly as possible, while this is still a family-friendly column.

I would like to thank Lisa and the folks at Oscar Mayer for including us on their national tour. I’d also like to thank them for avoiding fatty fillers in their hot dogs; the last time something 27 feet long and full of fat came to Florence, the results were explosive.

(You can write to Ned Hickson at nhickson@thesiuslawnews.com, or at the Siuslaw News at P.O. Box 10, Florence, OR, 97439, or visit his blog at nedhickson.wordpress.com)

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