Laugh Tracks in the Dust 9-14-09
Big city folks who try to be do-gooders in rural America can often find themselves in over their heads because they don’t understand rustic culture. Such wuz the situation a social worker from Boston, Mass., found herself in when she transferred from New England to work with folks in the Ozark Mountains in Missouri and northern Arkansas.
She was on the first tour of her new territory when she came upon the tiniest, most decrepit, foul-smelling cabin she had ever seen in her life. Figuring these backwards hillbillies could surely use the help she wuz bringing from the government, she went up and knocked on the door.
“Anybody home?” she asked.
“Yep,” came a kid’s voice through the door.
“Is your father there?” asked the social worker.
“Pa? Nope, he left a’fore Ma came in,” said the kid.
“Well, is your mother there?” persisted the social worker.
“Ma? Nope, she left just a’fore I got here,” said the kid.
“But,” protested the social worker, “are you never together as a family?”
“Sure, but not here,” said the kid through a hole in the door. “This is our outhouse!”
Two other female social workers are driving through a remote part of Wyoming one evening. They discover a man laying in the ditch. When they stop to assess the situation, the man turns out to be a rancher who is moaning and bleeding profusely from a deep cut on the back of his head.
“Help me,” the farmer groans, looking at them through his one good eye. I wuz changing a tire on my pickup truck, when two punks stopped, hit me on the head with my tire tool and stole my truck and horse trailer. Can you help?”
The two social workers look at the rancher again, then at each other, then turn and drive away.
As they leave, one remarks to her colleague: “He’s right, you know. The persons who bludgeoned that poor man really need help. They are certainly socially maladjusted.”
Those ladies not only didn’t understand rural life, it’s a cinch they also didn’t understand the commonsense wisdom of country folks.
To prove the point, here’s a list of “do’s and don’ts” that wuz sent to me by a wise farmer from eastern Oklahoma.
• Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me alone.
• The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and leaky tire.
• It’s always darkest before dawn. So if you’re going to fish in your neighbor’s “no trespassing” pond, that’s the time to do it.
• At work, don’t be irreplaceable. If you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.
• Always remember that you’re unique. Just like everyone else.
• Never test the depth of the water with both feet.
• If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of bank payments.
• Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and it’s a lot safer to have their shoes.
• If at first you don’t succeed, learning to swim by yourself is probably not a good idea.
• Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
• If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably a wise investment.
• If you always tell the truth, you don’t have to remember nothin’.
• Some days you’re the bug, but most days you’re the windshield.
• Everyone seems normal until you get to know them better.
• The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.
• A closed mouth gathers no foot.
• Duct tape is like “The Force.” It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds everything together.
• There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.
• Generally speaking, you aren’t learning much when your lips are moving.
• Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
• Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.
• Never miss a good chance to shut up while you’re ahead.
Here’s my chance to practice shutting up. So I’ll close for this week with these words of wisdom from former President Ronald Reagan: “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” Have a good supper with your family.
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