Of pickles and face masks


March 23, 2022


Pete Schopen with his preferred pickles. PHOTO: PETE SCHOPEN

I eat pickles on tacos.

Let that sink in for a minute. Onions, tomatoes, lettuce, shredded cheese and pickles make my tacos tastier than a Gordon Ramsay beef Wellington.

I also eat pickles on spaghetti sandwiches. This is a Schopen family favorite. My brothers, Eric and Drake, and sisters, Brenda, Sonja, Anita and Dayle, all partake in the spaghetti sandwich. We learned this tasty trick from Dad: Take cold spaghetti and scoop it onto two pieces of buttered bread. Take a whole dill pickle and thinly slice three sections onto the bread, then smash it together.

My all-time favorite sandwich is peanut butter, mayo, pickles and cheese, dipped into tomato soup. I’m sure I could come up with dozens of ways to eat pickles.

Recently, as I was enjoying some fried pickles, I came to the realization there are many objects in this world for which we can find multiple uses. For example, a drill can be used for drilling holes, screwing and tightening nuts and bolts, and stirring paint. Butter knives can be used for spreading jelly, opening pickle jars, and tightening screws. Cardboard boxes can be used for moving, building fort houses, sending jars of pickles to relatives and, if you flatten them, giving work vehicles traction on icy days.

How about face masks? Can they be used for reasons that are non-medical? I believe so. Here is my list of some of the many ways face masks can be used:

  • You can sing in public. If you are a really bad singer in church, at parties, or other places, you will blend in better.
  • They hide pimples and other blemishes. Remember that giant pimple you used to always get on picture day in high school? A mask would’ve protected you from years of humiliation.
  • They increase your lung capacity. Football players and high-endurance athletes have been using face masks for training for years.
  • You can store food in them for a mid-day snack. A mask is a perfect reservoir for my hamburger-sliced pickles, although it can get a bit soggy.
  • You can use them as a slingshot.
  • They keep your face warm in sub-zero temperatures.
  • They can be funny. I love when people wear custom face masks that look like their faces.
  • They can be a fashion accessory. Seriously, my wife has a mask for every color and occasion.
  • They are great for advertising. The Schopen logo looks awesome on black face masks.
  • You can stick your tongue out at your wife without her knowing.
  • They are great for cleaning eyeglasses.
  • They can hide bad breath.
  • They can protect you from others’ poor hygiene. My wife used to teach junior high students, and she said the classroom can get pretty ripe with teenage hormones.
  • There’s no need for lipstick. Your Chapstick bills go down, too.
  • You can use them as decoration. Festoon your dashboard or hang them from a holiday tree.
  • Passing gas in public has never been more camouflaged.
  • The ventriloquism industry is booming.

Pete Schopen, left, and Schopen Pest Solutions Technician of the Year Bob Welzen model their corporate masks. PHOTO: PETE SCHOPEN

As pest management professionals (PMPs), we have used face masks for decades to protect us from crawlspace dust, pigeon poop, rodent droppings, cockroach allergens, attic insulation, mold, and more. Clearly, an N95 mask is much better for this task than a cloth face mask with Farrah Fawcett’s face on it. You also don’t want to apply pesticides with a cloth face mask on. Cloth face masks will soak up the particles and create a hazard on your face.

Face masks serve the same purpose PMPs do: protecting public health. They should be worn as directed to protect our customers, coworkers and selves. Face masks can serve myriad uses, whether they are in service on our faces, scrubbing pots and pans, or protecting your nose from your Uncle Fred’s sweaty work shoes.

Perhaps you have more ideas on the many ways face masks can be used. I’m open to hearing them. Well, I’ve got to go now. I’ve got to find my mask so I can open up a new jar of pickles.

Schopen’s Open Book

Start-up: Schopen Pest Solutions Inc.
Headquarters: McHenry, Ill.
Founder: Peter F. Schopen Jr.
Start-up date: April 11, 2006
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 33 (32 full-time, 1 part-time)
2006 REVENUE: $97,235
2007 REVENUE: $172,495
2008 REVENUE: $203,732
2009 REVENUE: $243,427
2010 REVENUE: $325,960
2011 REVENUE: $425,847
2012 REVENUE: $489,887
2013 REVENUE: $572,772
2014 REVENUE: $687,326
2015 REVENUE: $858,180
2016 REVENUE: $1,079,068
2017 REVENUE: $1,478,600
2018 REVENUE: $1,877,496
2019 REVENUE: $2,095,118
2020 REVENUE: $2,398,367
2021 REVENUE: $3,295,259
2022 GOAL: $4,119,344
*Up 58% from January 2021. 

About the Author

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Schopen is owner of RV There Yet Pest Consulting and my email is rvthereyetpest@gmail.com.

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