Laugh Tracks in the Dust

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          I recently bought a used brush cutter from my good neighbor, ol’ I. Ron Cellar, who makes his living buying and selling used farm, lawn and garden equipment.

When I wuz picking up my cutter it wuz a cold day, so I lingered in his shop for conversation. That’s when I learned that he’s been at the farm machinery game for most of his adult life.

When I asked him how he happened to gravitate into that career, his answer wuz short, sweet and to the point: “I’m too lazy to work and too nervous to steal.”

That summed up a life’s work about as succinctly as I’ve ever heard.

***

While rummaging through the internet, I ran across a Cato Institute study that found welfare benefits in fact payout more than a full-time minimum wage job in at least 35 states.

According to the study, the free money is more than $15 an hour in over ten states. Welfare is more than a newly college educated teacher makes in eleven states makes. It outdoes the salary of a computer programmer in three states.

It didn’t surprise me much that the highest welfare payouts are over $20 an hour. Here are the highest “paying” welfare states or areas: Hawaii, with payments equaling $29.13 per hour; District of Columbia at $24.43 per hour; Massachusetts at $24.30; Connecticut at $21.33; New York at $21.01 per hour; New Jersey at $20.89 per hour; Rhode Island at $20.83 per hour, and Vermont at $20.36 per hour. Only Vermont surprised me by being on the list.

It’s interesting that none of the rural fly-over states made the top of the list. Guess folks in those states are busy calving out heifers, preparing spring fields for planting, and using my new FSA Ouija board to make farm management decisions.

***

I got this e-mail from a Texas rancher friend, ol’ Curt Retorte: “Milo, I was at the bar in the Texas Rose last night waiting for a beer, when an inebriated, aggressive big ol’ farm gal, who looked like she had a lot of miles on her, came up behind me, tapped me on the shoulder, gave me an inviting smile and said, ‘Hey, Big Boy, how about giving me your number.’

“I looked at her and said, ‘Do you have a pen?’

“She said, ‘I sure do,’ and started rummaging through her purse.

“Before she got good and started, I said, ‘Betcha’ the farmer’s gonna get mad when he discovers you missing from that pen.’

“Milo. Wish me well. My dental surgery is on Monday.”

***

Okay, for all your rednecks out there who don’t know if you’re a regular redneck or an extreme redneck. Here’s a few ways you can tell. You’re an extreme redneck if ….

  • The Blue Book value of your truck goes up and down depending on how much gas is in it.
  • You think a woman who is out of your league bowls on a different night.
  • You wonder how service stations keep their rest-rooms so clean.
  • Someone in your family died right after saying, “Hey, guys, watch this.”
  • You think Dom Perignon is a Mafia leader.
  • Your wife’s hairdo was once ruined by a ceiling fan.
  • You think the last words of the Star-Spangled Banner are “Gentlemen, start your engines.”
  • The Halloween pumpkin on your porch has more teeth than you do.
  • You have to go outside to get something from the fridge.
  • You need one more hole punched in your card to get a freebie at the House of Tattoos.
  • And finally, if you think loading the dishwasher means getting your wife drunk.

***

I’ll mention that I wuz surprised at the “egg-on-his-face” downfall of NBC’s anchor man Brian Williams. I’ve followed Brian’s television broadcast career since he began it decades ago reporting the news on station KOAM in Pittsburg, Kan.

I didn’t always agree with the selection of news that NBC chose to cover, but I always thought Mr. Williams had the best news delivery in the biz. To me, it’s sad that embellishing the truth led to his six-month banishment from NBC because there wuz no need for him to do such a thing.

***

Which, by the way, I’m glad that humorous aggie columnists aren’t held to an equally high standard of “just the truth and nuthin’ but the truth.” If I’d had to adhere to such standards, I’d never gotten the opportunity to write my fourth column, let alone four decades’ worth.

***

Might as well keep this theme going with a few wise words about writing to close this column. Founding Father Ben Franklin said, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” And Margaret Atwood said, “Reading and writing, like everything else, improve with practice. And, of course, if there are no young readers and writers, there will shortly be no older ones. Literacy will be dead and democracy, which is intricately connected to the two, will be dead as well.” Think or write about that and while you’re at it –have a good ‘un.

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