It was another clear day, another blue sky and another bevy of huffy-puffy phone calls to the Taranaki Daily News about the evils of chemtrails.
The chemtrail conspiracy theory holds that vapour trails left by aircraft are actually chemical or biological agents deliberately sprayed at high altitudes for reasons such as weather or mind control or to cause incurable diseases.
A fine day often sends half a dozen people rushing for their phones to report the activity to the Taranaki Daily News, which has yet to work out how to screen such communications.
Friday was one of those days.
"It's anthrax," some say.
"It's causing asthma," say others.
"This is something you should be looking into," they all say.
However, if that were true, this newspaper would also be reporting on Smurfs, aliens in the White House and the global domination plans of a group known as the New World Order.
The problem with chemtrails and dealing with chemtrail believers is that each brushoff only seems to make them ever more certain that the conspiracy exists, and so callers must be dealt with in a special way.
A seasoned reporter will know not to laugh, scowl or immediately slam the phone down.
This will only bring a smile to the theorist's face and a smug sense of satisfaction that they have discovered another conspirator.
The best way to handle conspiracy calls is with agreement.
"Yes. Chemtrails. Terrible isn't it. Evil too," the wily reporter will say, reeling the caller into their fish bin of trust.
"It's the Masons in cahoots with the Stone Cutters. It's the Martians tied up with the CIA," the reporter continues, voice dropping to a whisper.
"They're all in on it here, too," the veteran confides before dropping their whisper to a mere squeak.
"And they're tracking this call now."
Done right and your average theorist is gone in less than 12 seconds. Hurrah.
Vapour trails left by jet aircraft are the product of water vapour in the plane's exhaust cooling in the cold climes of altitude.
- Taranaki Daily News