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It pays to always look your best

It’s tough having the day off.
Sitting in my living room on a Monday afternoon, a woman knocked on my door.
And, like someone who was too dumb to look out the front window, I opened it wearing the working-man’s-vacation-day uniform – boxers and a red, terry cloth Hawkeye Pierce bathrobe with a mustard stain.
I had a beer in my hand, too. And my thumbs were numb from Nintendo.
No big deal. I’d answered the door wearing less and had listened to the spiel of many religious-types wanting me to attend church/donate money to the poor/sacrifice goats during the new moon, etc. – so I opened it.
And that’s when my trust in any commonplace act ever being normal again got shoved far enough into my brain, it’s keeping the memory of bottle feeding company.
“Hello,” a woman in a sharp business suit said. “Are you Jason Offutt?”
“Yeah. Uh, yes,” I said, realizing this was about something more than my salvation. “I’m Jason Offutt.”
“Good,” the woman said, pulling out a badge and holding it up long enough for me to read ‘FBI’ in big, cuddly letters. “I’d like to ask you a few questions.”
There are many reasons you’d want strangers to knock on your door. “Mr. Offutt, I found your wallet and your three bucks are still in it,” is one. “I’m the executor of your lost uncle’s will, and you’ve just inherited his English castle,” is another. And – at least for a single guy – the Holy Grail of door knocks is, “Hi, I don’t know who I am. I think you’re cute, rich and smell nice. I love football, and I don’t remember why I’m wearing a T-shirt that reads Hooters.”
“I’m with the FBI, and I’d like to ask you a few questions,” is somewhere on the list near, “I’m only 16, and my daddy’s a federal judge.”
“Sure,” I said, awkwardly slipping the half-full beer can into my robe pocket. “Come on in.”
There are a number of reasons the FBI would want to talk to you.
– You’re running drugs.
– You’ve taken someone over state lines against their will.
– You’ve had a UFO encounter and have been taken over state/intergalactic lines against your will.
That day I discovered another reason – a friend vying for a government job had listed me as a character reference.
The jerk.
“I’d like to ask you a few questions about David Blahblah (nameobscuredforlibelreasons) blahblah.”
“Uh,” I said, trying to regain what was left of my dignity. “Sure. Come on in.”
Then we sat on the couch and I told her everything I knew about my friend as the beer in my pocket leaked into the cushions.
He was bucking for some job making maps for the military.
He got the job in spite of me.
And what did I learn?
Days off suck.
Jason’s book of ghost stories, “Haunted Missouri: A Ghostly Guide to the Show-Me State’s Most Spirited Spots,” is available from amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com or tsup.truman.edu. Visit Jason’s Web site, www.jasonoffutt.com, for his other books.

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