Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Willow River School
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Impersonation or imitation?

Wick's World


In the 19th century, author Charles Caleb Colton stated, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” This quote has been used in various versions ever since.

One definition of imitation is “the act of mimicking somebody, or an impression of somebody.”

While at home, to the chagrin of my wife, I myself often attempt to impersonate a stand-up comic. Sometimes just for fun I will "misrepresent" myself in public. Last week, like Sean Penn, I pulled off a hilarious impersonation as a big-time journalist.

This occurred while on vacation in Florida. Several of my family spent an afternoon at one of America’s most famous dog tracks. A service dog I’ll call Fido (she wishes to remain anonymous) accompanied us to the track. Fido is a six-pound mixed breed Boxer/Chihuahua. When traveling, her home is the inside of her companion’s purse, which is where she was when we entered the dog track. We hadn’t even reached the mezzanine when a security guard approached.

“I’ll have to look inside that purse,” she stated to the service dog’s companion. This was simply a security check so the guard had no idea when he propped open the purse, Fido would stick out her muzzle and bark.

Taken aback, the grumpy security guard demanded, “You’ll have to get that dog out of here now!”

Fido’s companion made an attempt to tell the guard the dog was certified to be with her at all times and in all places. The problem arose when the companion realized she had left Fido’s certification papers at the resort. Just when she was about to exit the dog track, Fido’s companion realized the certification was on her smart phone. The wonders of today’s technology never cease to amaze me. She booted up the certificate and showed the screen version to the security guard. This technology obviously went way over the guard’s head as she snapped, “I’ll have to call the chief.”

This is when my impersonation began. I whipped out a notebook and pen and said, “I want to see the security chief in person. I think I just witnessed a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) violation with that young lady.”

The guard looked as if I had just threatened to violate her using a band of hippies. She immediately got on her phone, gave me a dirty look and said, “He’ll meet you at the front entrance.”

I walked down to the front gate and saw a law enforcement official who looked as if he had more medals on his uniform than General Colin Powell following the Gulf War.

With my notebook and pen prominently displayed, I looked at his name badge and said, “Captain Peterson, could I have your first name, please.”

“Sure, it’s Bill” he said.

“I’m a newspaper columnist throughout the Upper Midwest and assure you, I’m not here to be hostile, but I would like to talk to you about a HIPAA violation by one of your security guards.”

I told him the story about the service dog and how her companion was escorted from the dog track. The chief knew exactly what HIPAA was about.

He put up his hands and said, “Hey! I don’t need any bad publicity here.”

He was almost pleading with me as he told a story of how he had recently complied with a security dog. “It was just a few days ago. But you got to realize how careful I have to be. We’re talking about bringing dogs to a dog track. If that dog would get loose and get on the track ... We’ve got thousands of dollars riding on each race; or if the dog spread a disease, they could put us out of business costing us millions!”

Although my status as a "newspaper columnist throughout the Upper Midwest" is limited to the Moose Lake, Minnesota, area and a local paper in my hometown in South Dakota, I really didn’t tell a lie. My version as a columnist carried enough status to buy me some clout with the chief of security at one of America’s most popular dog tracks. He agreed to take a closer look at the certificate.

Feeling it just wasn’t worth the hassle, Fido and her companion had already retreated to the van to read a book called “See Spot Run.”


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