Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I'll Tell You Mine If You Tell Me Yours

One of the residents at work recently got a prescription for ciprofloxacin, brand name Cipro--also known as the anthrax antibiotic--to ward off a non-anthrax infection. When he was taking his first dose, I casually* mentioned that anthrax treatment was one of the things Cipro was best known for.

He raised an eyebrow and chuckled uneasily, joking, "Uh, I'm pretty sure I don't have anthrax."

I agreed that he probably didn't. Then I said, "Have you ever heard my anthrax story?"

He raised the eyebrow again, a little skeptically this time.

I said, "What? You mean not everyone has an anthrax story?"

Then I shared my anthrax story, which technically is Hubby's anthrax story, but one of the great fringe benefits of marriage is you automatically get a proprietary interest in each other's stories so...

At one time, Hubby had a hazardous materials certification and worked sporadically for a company that would send him to all sorts of emergency and remedial situations. He removed underground storage tanks from an abandoned gas station. He cleaned asphalt that had spilled into a creek when the nozzle at the back of a truck was not properly secured during the road workers lunch break. He assisted with chemical disposal at transfer stations on occasion.

In the fall of 2001, a series of letters containing anthrax spores killed five people and sickened seventeen others. Hubby was called to work on the clean-up of the postal facility in Trenton, NJ through which the letters had passed.

Daughter-Only, who was in first grade at the time, told one of her classmates, "My dad's in New Jersey doing something with anthrax."

Fast forward to mid-January, Hubby has been home and back to normal life for several weeks by this time. He has just gotten out of the shower when there's a knock on the front door.

It's an FBI agent. He wants to know what, precisely, Hubby was doing with anthrax in New Jersey. It was all cleared up in a matter of minutes, but it's a story that will last a lifetime.
*There is some question as to whether it's possible to mention anthrax casually, as the rest of this story will endeavor to show.


  1. That is so funny! I think it would be kind of neat to have an FBI agent show up at your door. As long as their guns aren't drawn, that is!

  2. Too funny! How in the heck did that first grader's comment ever get to the FBI? Did you ever trace that trail back? And the cynical me wishes the FBI would focus on gang violence or sociopathic killers rather than comments made by 6 year olds.....

    And, judy, I'll take an FBI agent at the door if he/she has a sense of humor and he/she isn't too full of themselves....

  3. In the end, it was a pretty entertaining anecdote and the FBI agent was not terribly uptight.

    It did make me wonder a few things--like you said, sebtown, what was the path an innocent comment took to make it from a first grader's mouth to an FBI agent? The best we were really able to figure out is that the teacher that year was married to a state cop and we think she may have overheard and mentioned it to him and he ran with it.

    For a while after it happened, I was on the fence about how I felt about it--on the one hand, it was good that the FBI was investigating every possible lead. On the other, it took them over a month to come looking. On the third hand (maybe all that second-hand exposure to toxins from Hubby's job has caused a mutation?), like you said sebtown, shouldn't they have considered the source a little & didn't they have more credible (and pressing) things to look into?

  4. You make me laugh and some days, that is exactly what I need. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

    The Liebster Award is yours: http://www.womworkingmom.com/2011/12/liebster-blog-award-and-possibly-what-i.html

  5. I don't have an anthrax story, but I have been interviewed by an FBI agent. They don't seem to have much of a sense of humor-not on the job anyway.

  6. Funny! I love how marriage does make the stories communal property. I can tell a funny tale from my husband's childhood better than he can!

  7. Great story, thanks for sharing! A month later though...good to know they're on the ball!

    In my family my siblings steal each others' stories:)

  8. Congrats on the featured post!

  9. WOW!

    At first, I questioned as sebtown did...the validity of the source being a 1st grader. However, don't we sometimes underestimate what children overhear and comprehend/absorb and then say things within their earshot without thinking they might repeat it? I can actually see where this might have been a potentially viable lead in an investigator's mind - especially when they may not have had many leads.

    I'm glad he didn't actually HAVE anthrax *laughing*.

  10. Super! I followed you over here from NoisyQuiet's blog. I'd like to meet an aFBI agent (In all the novels I read they're tall and very cute) do you think if I casually mentioned anthrax over here in Oz it'd have the same result?

  11. Stella, it's worth a shot. ;) Thanks for stopping by.

  12. No WAY! That's crazy! And yeah, a month later? What the heck?

    I wonder if they were following him for that long and finally got bored. But then you'd think they'd have done a background check on him, figured out his job, and checked to see where he was on those dates! Wouldn't that be the FIRST thing they'd do? Weird.