Beware voodoo dolls: they may turn on their masters

A funny beer ad (if a tad vulgar and with a regrettable typo) featuring a voodoo doll reminded your correspondent of a tale involving a cousin of the said creature. Back in the day, your writer worked in Atlanta for a company that brands itself “the most trusted name in news”. More on that some other time.

This was 2000. There were so many hopes for the new millennium. George W. Bush and all the other bad things that came afterwards were not even a distant nightmare. By then, the only prescient hint of today’s White House was President Biff in the dystopian version of Back to the Future II of 1989. Poor us. We laughed, thinking it was a joke. If only. Back in the day, America was indeed a much merrier and more welcoming place.

Anyway, back to our story. The U.S. may have been a great country back then. But office life was what it always was: miserable, which other people, who draw strength and inspiration by making other people miserable, made more miserable. Nothing new under the sun.

And a dear friend of this correspondent hated our boss. So in one of his trips in his submarine-sized Cadillac to New Orleans, where your correspondent often drove to escape the uneventful monotony of Atlanta, he brought back a voodoo doll. It was of the cheap type from a famed voodoo store on Bourbon Street.

This was pre-Katrina New Orleans. The French Quarter was brimming with fun, beautiful women, rivers of beer and other stuff this writer no longer remembers. So he entered the voodoo shop to get a helpful souvenir for his colleague back in Atlanta. There was a huge array of statuettes of all sorts and prices, with nails and unfortunate animal jaws, claws and other parts sticking out. They really appeared capable of unleashing the mother of all curses on the targeted victim.

But the prices of these soldiers of evil were beyond the reach of your correspondent’s meager salary paid by the said trusted name in news. And anyway, they really looked the real deal. The goal was just a little prank, not to unleash a march of the living dead and malignant zombies in Atlanta. So your correspondent settled for a humble, cloth doll, for 10 dollars. It came with a set of pins and needles (as opposed to nails) so the assumption was that it could make no major harm.

The gift caused a sensation. The reporter who hated our boss kept the voodoo doll by his computer’s keyboard and would pinch it here and there before ending his shift. He would then lock it in the upper drawer for the night. A few days later, the boss injured his leg playing tennis. We all laughed at the coincidence but didn’t’ think much of it. Until a week later the boss was fired. That was big: the voodoo doll worked! Alas, the following day your correspondent’s friend was fired, too. The voodoo doll was obviously treacherous. It may have been defective, too. Or perhaps we didn’t understand the instructions.