Question: How many journalists does it take to catch a couple of errant mice who've dropped into their newsroom?
Answer: Apparently more than we have in this office.
It's not really fair to cast aspersions on our small-game hunting abilities. You'd be surprised at how hard it is to contrive impromptu mouse-catching devices while your prey scurries furiously under foot.
It's particularly difficult when your office has more of a live-and-let-live than a kill-or-be-killed vibe and the hunt's goal is to capture the mouse alive so he can be repatriated to live out the rest of his life among friends and family.
The first attack came from the air. The mouse fell from the drop ceiling into Beth's office, disturbing her editing progress on our annual Progress edition.
Word of the visitor quickly spread throughout the newsroom, and allies tentatively lined up at Beth's office door to offer assistance.
With admirable aplomb, Beth was trying to figure a way to corral the little critter and was employing an empty cardboard stationery box, an empty plastic recycling bin, and some dry cereal left over from a fundraising drive chronicled in a recent edition.
This mouse, though, was too busy scampering to stop for a bite. He was lean and had long strides, like a tiny racehorse.
He was even too fast for Brittany to get off a picture, though she may have been hindered by the lack of a nearby human to give the photo "scale."
Rich, a golfing enthusiast, carried a five iron into the fray. Though technically a "mashee," he intended to use the club for benign herding purposes.
But the mouse was simply too fleet to be maneuvered into solitary confinement.
The little fellow eventually darted behind a bookcase, and decided to lay low till the heat wore off.
We all went back to work. The day progressed. The day ended. We went home.
And, presumably, so did the mouse, perhaps to share the day's adventures with peers.
But apparently his cautionary tale did not reach the small, rounded ears of one his colleagues.
For the very next day, Caitlin was being given an account of the mouse encounter she'd missed the previous afternoon.
"Where was the mouse?" she asked.
"By your foot," Brittany replied.
Very funny, I thought, nonetheless drawn to look down at Caitlin's feet.
But Brittany wasn't kidding. A little mouse sat inches from Caitlin's foot, not so very far from my own feet. He was shorter, grayer, and a good deal dumber than his predecessor.
Page 2 of 2 - By this time a professional in pest control was on the premises planning our defense system. Even he was a little bemused by this tiny exhibitionist's behavior.
There was no sport in attempting this critter's capture, particularly since professionals were now involved. He eventually headed out of sight after passing Dave's desk, our newsroom's westernmost border.
The micecapades were over.
It should be noted for future generations, though, that at no time during these surprise visits did any member of our hardy crew leap atop a chair and screech.
I almost did when I saw the mouse at Caitlin's feet but I contained myself.
Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media New England's Plymouth office, and can be reached at email@example.com.