Friday, October 7, 2011

The Nicest Compliment

I was speaking to an elite urban gentleman who happened to be drinking our humble feed store coffee. The dredges, really, at four in the afternoon. (He had some class to drink that and not frown!) When I mean elite, I feel qualified to say that a leer jet and personal driver put a person in that category. Further,if that driver and jet land in my tiny-no-where town, it makes it an exceptional occasion, and his being in my store a bit of a curiosity. Starch is not enough to impress me, so I was anxious to see if a conversation would ensue.

He smiled as he poured his coffee. He glanced at the assorted empty chairs around the little table and asked what happened in this place. I talked about the "round table" and it's regulars that appear usually, twice a day.I talked about hot topics at the round table which included predator management. When he pressed further, I gave him a short lecture on wildlife management in relationship to agriculture. He found it hard to believe that wolves roamed the hills and bears wandered through town, but I assured him, it was a real part of our lives.I did not give a speech of note, but it was all clearly, new to him.

He paused a moment and then said, "You're not from a round here are you?"

I laughed and described that most definitely this was my hometown. I had a bit of a leave of absence where I traveled and went to university, completed relief work, and helped farmers on several continents.

His compliment then followed, "You can't hide that."

I laughed and said, "So you weren't fooled by my jeans and work shirt?!"

He then continued to tell me that he works with a lot of rural folks around the country and that it was refreshing to have an articulate conversation in a small town.

I replied, "Well, I'm a credit to my people, then!".

As I thought about the conversation in the days hence, I still feel that way. I feel that my experiences in Choteau, Montana, as a young person, were significant. They have set me on a foundation. Whether someone taught me, gave me some work, bought the goods I was selling on a particular day (FFA fruit sales come to mind!), hired me, entrusted me with their kids, or fixed my bicycle tire for free...all of these things gave me a foundation and framework to build upon for the remainder of my days.

Anything on top of that, no matter how large or fantastic, is really still resting on that base. It's a good reminder of how important my job is as a parent, mentor, and friend to the young people in my life. (Okay, so God thought of the whole foundation thing first, I just extrapolated a bit!)

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