Snowbirding |


Laugh Tracks in the Dust
Milo Yield
Damphewmore Acres, Kan.

Well, HAPPY NEW YEAR! As you read this week’s column, ol’ Nevah and I most likely will be enroute for the warm weather in the Valley of the Sun in Arizona.

While we’re arriving at and moving into our new temporary digs in the desert, our permanent home in the Flint Hills is under the watch and care of a trusted “house-sitter” for two months. Ain’t nuthin’ hurts a house worse than being vacant, so we’re glad it’ll have an occupant while we’re gone a’snowbirding.

• • •

Relationships between farmers and hired men seem to have always been strained. Recently, a southeastern Kansas crop farmer friend of mine, ol’ Justin Case, revealed that he and his long-time hired man, ol’ Calus D. Hanz, agreed that for the new year they’d write down the things they think they’ve learned from all their years of employer/employee relationship.

Here’s what Justin wrote down:

• A pat on the back is only a few inches from a kick in the pants, but usually far more effective, but not as much fun.

• The more insubordination you put up with, the more you’re going to get.

• I can go to town any time I want and Calus will never question why — just as long as I leave with my briefcase and/or my laptop computer.

• Never give directions to do two jobs. Calus will always do the least important, or easiest, one first.

• If Calus doesn’t get it right the first time, no need of explaining further. Do it yourself. Nothing gained by being stubborn about it.

• There will always be an embarrassing empty beer can roll out from beneath the pickup seat whenever I take Calus to town with me.

• I knew there’d be lots of trying days as a consequence of having a hired man. I just didn’t know there’d be so many.

• Calus occasionally will do more work than I’ve assigned him to do. Usually, it’s work he’s not supposed to be doing.

• When I gave my farming enterprise a fancy LLC name, I was surprised when Calus took pride in his affiliation with it.

• It’s a good thing there’s such a thing as a “last minute,” or else Calus would never get anything done.

• When I’m confused about a farm management decision, it keeps Calus from asking tough questions if I walk fast, open my cell phone, and look worried.

• When a machine I’m running breaks down, somehow it miraculously works fine after I’ve called Calus on his cell phone and he arrives to help me fix it.

• Once Calus screws up a job, nothing he does improves the situation — only makes it worse.

• All holidays and vacations on this farm cause labor problems, except, of course, for my own.

Here’s what Calus, the hired man, wrote:

• Don’t be irreplaceable. If you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted either.

• The more unreasonable job directives you accept without question, the more you’re going to get.

• I can do about anything around the farmstead without getting questioned by Justin as long as I have a serious look on my face, a greasy rag in my hip pocket, and a crescent wrench or pair or pliers in my hand.

• Justin wastes a lot of my time by not giving me instructions for the whole day, rather than one job at a time.

• When Justin talks about improving productivity on the farm, you can bet he’s never talking about himself.

• There will always be an empty beer can in the tractor tool box when Justin opens it after I’ve been driving the tractor. I never try to explain because he’ll never believe that I picked it up at the gate where somebody had littered.

• I knew there’d be days when Justin drives me crazy looking over my shoulder at the work I’m doing. I just never thought there’d be so many days.

• The best way to please Justin is to help keep his wife off his back by always requesting his assistance when she’s trying to get his undivided attention.

• Justin would never understand the grief I get from my friends from working on a farm with such a pretentious-sounding LLC name.

• I don’t know why, but I’m always doing something piddling when Justin peeks into the shop. I’ve just finished the big job.

• Justin always gives me the biggest compliments for the jobs I like doing the least.

• One good thing about doing a job wrong is seeing how much joy it brings to Justin when he points it out to me.

• It’s true that opposites attract. That’s why Justin and I get along as well as we do and I mostly enjoy it all.

• • •

Words of wisdom for the week: The federal Civil Service has listed a new part-time profession: Whistleblower 1.

Have a good ‘un. ❖

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