As the theoretical cigar-chomping, hooch-swilling, skirt-chasing, cholesterol-lowering-medication-taking, underpaid and overworked 1930s newspaper-style bureau chief of the fictional yet highly respected Monkey Action News Team, I thought the time was right for a trust-building exercise to bring us closer together as a unit.

I summoned my culturally diverse squad — Johnny, Rico, Lulu, Jaafar, Kichiro and Toots, the finest group of guys and gals to ever cover global monkey news — to my office for a meeting.

“All right, you mooks! Get in here on the double!” I yelled. “And I don’t want to see any lollygagging because if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s a lollygagger. Move it!”

“Chief, we’ve been over this with HR several times,” said Lulu. “The yelling and name-calling and spittle flying — especially spittle flying — don’t contribute to a positive work environment.”

“I know, I know,” I said, rubbing my temples and sighing deeply. “It’s just that I’m from the old school, see? I came up in the wild and wooly days of journalism when yelling and name-calling and flying spittle were all part of the racket, see? We wore hats, everything was in black and white and we ended most of our sentences with a question mark, see? But, back to that positive work environment you’re always whining about. I’ve got an idea. A trust-building exercise to bring us closer together as a unit.”

Jaafar looked skeptical.

“But, chief, didn’t you say as hard-nosed journalists going after the big story we should trust no one?”

“Why, you little — !” I said, bolting from my chair and clamoring over the cluttered desk in an effort to get my hands around his throat. “I’ll teach you to use my words against me.”

“Chief, your blood pressure,” said Johnny. “Take a deep breath and tell us about this idea of yours”

“Fine,” I said. “We’re going to climb Mount Everest.”

“What”? said Toots.

“Yes, climb Mount Everest. Right to the top. Each member of the team an integral part of our success.”

They exchanged nervous glances.

“Chief,” said Johnny, “at least 11 people have died climbing Mount Everest this year and experts are blaming overcrowding and inexperience for the increase in fatalities. It’s been all over the news.”

“Frankly, I don’t pay a lot of attention to news that doesn’t involve monkeys and neither should you,” I said. “Now, you’ve got an hour to gather your belongings, say goodbye to your loved ones, complete the insurance forms naming me your beneficiary and then we’ll convene at the helipad and board the Monkey Action News chopper for whatever godforsaken part of the world Mount Everest is in and start building that trust on the way up and hopefully on the way back down.”

“But chief,” said Rico, “who will cover breaking monkey news while we’re gone? Only a few short days ago Science Magazine reported that researchers in Niokolo-Koba National Park in Senegal were pestering monkeys with drones to see how monkeys reacted. Monkeys vs. drones, chief. That needs further investigation.”

“That’s right,” Kichiro spoke up. “And just published a story about a woman raising two white-faced capuchin monkeys as if they were her own kids. That’s bound to end badly.”

“Agreed,” said Lulu. “And the Daily Star in the UK recently reported on India’s efforts to force-feed monkeys contraceptive pills as the country ‘wages war on killer primates.’ I for one am ready to grab my monkey-proof vest and hit that warzone.”

I felt tears coming to my eye, though it may have been an involuntary response to Rico’s overwhelming use of AXE body spray.

“You mean you guys would rather cover monkey news than die — I mean build trust — on Mount Everest?” I said, looking at each team member. “I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder. Now, get out there and cover that monkey news, you mooks! and no lollygagging!”

Hollifield is editor/general manager of The McDowell News and a humor columnist. Contact him at

Hollifield is editor/general manager of The McDowell News and a humor columnist. Contact him at

Hollifield is editor/general manager of The McDowell News and a humor columnist. Contact him at