So, I have been sent to Lancaster to perform archaeological survey surrounding access roads for some power lines that Southern California Edison wants to upgrade. Lancaster, as you may know, is in the California Desert, and is surrounded by mountains. The mountains to the north contain uranium, and, in point of fact, the town to the north is notorious for Cancer clusters as a result. The mountains to the south contain quartz and rhyolite and, as a result, are not carcinogenic.
Well, I was walking along the road, up one of these wondrous non-carcinogenic mountains, listening to the field tech on the other side of the road prattle on about all things purple (no, I don't understand her fixation with purple, either), when I heard a voice coming from a scrub oak next to me. It said "Ouch"
"Pardon," I asked the scrub oak, "did you say ouch?"
"Yes." The plant's answer was decisive.
"Because you stepped on my foot!"
I looked down to see that my rather large foot, encased in a rather large boot, was stepping on a human foot clad only in a ratty, old pair of Birkenstocks. Yep, I had found a mountain hermit.
I seperated the branches of the scrub oak to get a look at the hermit's facial hair. The facial hair of mountain hermits is distinctive to each species, and if I was going to report this to the biologist, I would first have to determine whether this was an endangered species or not. Poking my head in, I could see the long hair at the chin, surrounded by somewhat shorter hair, typical of the former goatee of the Western Post-Yuppie Pseudo-Hippie (scientific designation Homo sapien obnoxious), an invasive species that competes with habitat and displaces the native Californian burned out hippie hermit.
"Sorry about that," I said as I pulled my foot off of his. I guessed that the wildlife biologist would have to put out some bait and capture this one in order to ship it off to either Los Angeles or New York, depending on where its plumage indicated that its source of origin was.
"So?" The hermit looked at me expectantly.
"So?" I replied, with my usual wittiness and panache.
"Why are you here?" He asked, looking a bit annoyed.
"Me? Oh, I'm an archaeologist. I'm doing surveys for the utilities company."
"No, that is why you think you're here, but you are really here to learn something. Something profound." He looked very pleased with himself.
"Uhh, no, I'm here to do archaeological surveys. Here's my business card, you see that it says 'archaeologist' on it? Well, that's me, the archaeologist."
"But are you not also a seeker of wisdom?"
"Not when last I checked." I said, adjusting my backpack to better reach my tazer should the need arise.
"Have you not come to this place, the sacred mountain, to find a master whose teachings you can follow?"
"No. I'm just here for work."
"Have you not come so that I can impart my wisdom to you?" He seemed to be almost pleading. I felt sorry for the guy, and could see that letting him down would break his heart. Of course, being the way I am, that didn't stop me.
"No." I answered. I had puled out my cellphone and was scrolling for the wildlife biologist's phone number.
"Can't I impart just a little wisdom to you?"
"I'm really not in the market."
"How about your friend?" He indicated the field tech.
"Oh, I don't think she can handle any more wisdom. She just finished reading 'The Secret', you see."
"Oh." He looked disheartened.
"Well, I'd better go now, we're behind schedule and need to make up time." I lied, of course.
"Well, may the road you go down..."
"No." I said, holding my hand up, "No wisdom, no sayings, no parables, and no homilies."
He then slipped back into the vegetation, and I could actually hear him slump as he vanished from my sight. I hit the "call" button.
"Hey, it's Armstrong, the archaeologist. Yeah, we've got another of the hermits up here. No, no, this one's non-native. Yeah? Gas now? Well, whatever you think is best. I'll text the UTM coordinates over to you."
I checked my GPS, fed the coordinates into the text message, flipped the phone closed, and walked away.