The vet and the businessman

2011-12-29 00:00

GREG is my good friend. Years back, he was my neighbour. He was also a ­fledgling businessperson. I was not. His profession was generating wealth, mine was castrating cats and doing other unmentionable things to animals. Which is why, when the idea of a money-making venture entered my tiny little brain, I asked for his assistance.

At the time, I was doing some contract work at a pork abattoir, ensuring that the meat emerging was fit for human consumption. It was here I noticed, that while virtually all parts of the unfortunate animal were considered edible, the testicles from the male pigs (while indispensible to the live boar), were almost worthless when dead, being rejected from the food chain. The germ of an idea gathered momentum, involving the conversion of these high-protein organs into dog food.

I discussed this with Greg. As I recall, he did not exactly share my view that this venture would place us in the same bracket as Raymond Ackerman, but he at least had the grace to compile a business plan. All we had to do was cook the product, package it and sell it. It was simple. I had no doubt that the manufacturers of Hills, Iams and other premium-quality pet-foods would soon be shaking in their boots. The market was about to be rocked by a new, quality player.

On the Friday afternoon, I arrived at our home, in the shady lee of the escarpment leading up to Worlds View, with 25 kilograms of potential fido food, oozing with nutrients, testosterone and semen.

On Saturday morning, I got up early. The rest of the neighbourhood was still in slumberland as I filled a large cast-iron pot with pigs testicles and put it on the stove to boil, and went outside to clean the pool. Presently, a pungent pork odour seeped from the doorway, followed by my family clutching their noses and gasping for air. Even the cats, notoriously keen on early-morning sleep-ins, had made their way outside. The dogs had staked positions next to the stove, anticipating a feast. I was berated by my family and instructed, in no uncertain terms, to cease my activity or make another plan.

So, reluctantly, I found a disused one-plate cooker, which I set up on an outside verandah, and transferred my enterprise alfresco.

Three hours later, and the water was tepid, if not actually boiling. The product was not nearly cooked. Greg had ambled over to find out where the smell was coming from, and we had also had a couple of phone calls inquiring if anything had died.

Time passed. The kids had made excuses to visit friends, and my wife had locked herself in the bedroom. The dogs had not moved — great pools of saliva marked their individual stake-outs. Greg had done what all businessmen do when they are under pressure — he found himself a four-ball at the country club. The nuts were still oozing blood on the inside. I was starting to lose patience.

It was around this time that I was dispatched to the shops for provisions. Leaving Pick ‘n Pay, I encountered a couple who were commenting on the unusual aroma that was mixing with the pleasant sweet smell from the Nestle factory on the southerly breeze. And as I approached home I noticed kites and ibises circling over my house. The neighbours mutt was trying to scale my fence. The smell was worse than appalling. In my minds eye, I saw the nice Jewish family from up the road nailing a for-sale sign on their gate.

I had had enough.

So I took my shovel and buried the lot in the vacant plot next door.

I learnt some things about myself that day. I realised that I was better off concentrating on my profession, and that it was prudent to leave business ventures for those imbued with the entrepreneurial spirit.

And Greg? Well, he became a successful player in the catering industry.

I like to think that I may have played some role in his selection of a career path.

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