February 6, 2017, The Compliment
West Texas cowboys are an interesting breed. For them, wearing spurs to work is as common as a Philadelphia lawyer wearing a three piece suit. A long work day start when the sun comes up. The phrase ”burning daylight” is not about getting out of bed at sunrise – it is about being on your horse, out in the pasture, waiting to start work as soon as there is enough light to see. It is a life lived basically outdoors, with long hours, doing whatever needs to be done, in whatever weather God gives that day. They have a particular a mindset with their own set of values. It is a hard life with its own rewards - They love it.
It was a cold, nasty, January day. Freezing rain, turned to wet heavy snow and were are low on gas. Stop in at the Alsup's (the West Texas version of a 7-11) to fill up. No pay at the pump back then so when I had filled the tank, I went inside to pay (notice the fill up first and pay after and you can guess how long ago this was). While I am paying for the gas Elaine is outside in that nasty weather checking the oil and cleaning the windows.
As I start to leave, I notice a boy around 16 holding a mop and looking out the door. He was about as county as you could find in boots, jeans, western shirt and hat. He watching Elaine working out there in that nasty weather. I stopped and we stood together silently watching her for a few seconds. He nodded his head once, turned to me and said “She’s good hand” and went back to mopping the floor. To that young cowboy, being a “good hand” is the highest compliment a person can give.
I happen to think he was right!
My moral – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.