Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Day's Wages: A Cowgirl's Story: Part 2

As you recall from yesterday's post, life with a certain employer was always exciting. 

Maddening.  But exciting nonetheless.

The weekend following the saga of the crazed cows, my sometimes employer informed me we were to attempt to gather them again. 

I refused.

He promised to have his son and another hired hand on horseback with us.  He also said he had a new plan that involved driving the cattle down the road.  I guess to his house.  I don't recall exactly where we ended up.  I just remember the process of getting there...

Dad convinced me to help out.  And Granddad promised to be there.  I agreed.  And when I say "agreed" you should read that while Dad "asked" he was really "telling"  and refusal was never a real option.

So it's Saturday again.  I had the horses in the corral unsaddled until my employer showed up, miracle of miracles, by noon (7AM was the planned start time) with two horses saddled in the trailer.  It turned up that his son was to be on Star, his hand was on Smokey, and he was to ride one of our mounts.  I quickly spoke up that Blue was mine.  And I saddled him with my saddle before you could say "boo."

We unloaded at the pasture, and Granddad met up with us.  I've always wondered how Granddad happened to be there no matter what time we started.  I guess he was called from the house.  Heck I don't know, as we did not have CB radios or cell phones...

The cattle predictably bolted to the far southwest corner.   Our plan was to drive them through a gate on the North side.  I was feeling pretty confident in our game plan as we now had four horses, and you can do darn near anything with three horses, so four is a bonus!  Well, as we were burning daylight it was suggested that we trot until we got closer to the cattle.

Did I mention Smokey was old?  It took lots of energy just to get him to trot.  And his rider probably weighed over 300 pounds.  Poor Smokey.  He also had a tendency to let out unfortunate bursts of air from his backside as he trotted along...

My employer's son was on Star.  I had experienced gathering cattle with him when we were younger.  It involved him being on Smokey and crying.  Because he was cold.  He ended up going back to the trailer and reloading his horse and riding in the pickup.  The big baby.  I was hoping I wouldn't have to see any tears that day. However, as I felt the sweat run down between my shoulder blades I was relatively certain that his seventeen year old self wasn't going to cry because he was cold.

We drove the cattle up the fence and to the gate they were supposed to exit.  The gate is one I didn't even know existed.  And neither did the cattle.  In fact, the gate had been opened, but it was overgrown with some sort of tall weeds or something.  I can't remember what it was.  I do remember that the weeds/feed/whatever was taller than my horse's head.  And Blue was not happy about riding through it.  He stomped and snorted and hopped around and resisted and did NOT want to go in.  So it definitely wasn't corn.  We had some cattle get in our neighbors corn and like to never got them out because all my horse wanted to do was eat.  Dang horse.

Anyway, the gate was overgrown.  You could not even see a gate there.  Nobody had bothered to stomp down or drive through the trash grown up around it so we could go through the gate. 

The cattle bolted fifty different directions.

My employer proceeded to yell at me.  His son was utterly incompetent and seemed incapable of moving out of a light canter.  Poor Smokey was too overburdened to move out of a jolting trot...

We started all over, gathering up small bunches of cattle that had bolted then grouped up...Granddad had driven through the gate a few times so it appeared that there was an actual place to go.

After much swearing and yelling on the part of my employer and much ineptitude on the part of the "help" provided that day, we finally got the cattle through the gate and headed north up the road.  Granddad took his pickup and went the opposite way to hurry around the section and make sure the cattle did not go the wrong direction at the various road intersections..

I guess we drove them to my employer's corrals.  I don't remember sorting cattle.  Although I'm quite certain I did help.  Gathering cattle to just dump in a corral would be pointless.  Perhaps we just herded them in then let them cool off for a day before sorting was done.  I don't know.

I do remember that when we went home, Granddad followed in his pickup.  And I also remember that my employer said, "Hey!  I need to pay you for all of your help."  I wearily walked up to him, relieved to finally get some monetary reward for my suffering...

He reached in behind the seat of his pickup, then dug around a bit in the console...

And he finally turned around and handed me a ball cap and a pen.  The ball cap was a "ladies" cap.  The kind that has a really short bill and a pompom on top.  They both proudly read "Jones Trucking Company."

I wanted to throw the pen and cap at him.  But I merely took them and turned to walk away.  Granddad had witnessed the exchange and called me over to him.  "Did he pay you last week?" 

"No."  That was all I said.  I don't deny that I have a smart mouth, and that I did even then.  However, there were certain people I did NOT smart off too.  And Granddad was at the very top of that list. 

He quietly reached in his wallet and handed me some cash.  "You don't have to do that,"  I said even as I took the cash from his hand.

He simply lifted his straw fedora hat with his left hand, ran his hand over his nearly bald head with his right, then took a drag on his cigarette which was always firmly held between the first two fingers of that right hand.  He gave me his Granddad smile and told me to take it.

So I did.  I stuffed the money in my pocket, gave him a big hug and a smack on the lips   then went to unsaddle the horses. 

(I miss the smell of Granddad.  His kisses always smelled like Marlboro Light 100s and Original Chapstick.  I still remember him every time I crack open a tube of Chapstick.  Sometimes he had cherry, but I always liked it best when he used the Original.  It still comes in the black tube I can always remember him fishing out of his pocket to apply between drags on his cigarettes.)

And I did not so much as say goodbye to my employer, his son, or his hired hand that day.  I merely walked to the house with my cash in my pocket, and the stupid pen and hat in my hand.

"How did it go?"  Mom asked when she heard me come stomping through the back door.  I showed her what my "days wages" were according to my uncle. 

I think she actually started laughing.  And then I did too.  Dad got an even bigger laugh out of it...

Because you see, Gentle Reader, Jones Trucking was my DAD'S trucking company.  And it had not even existed for at least ten years by the time my employer was "paying" me with the promotional items!

I guess that maybe says something about the quality of work I was doing.

My employer had deemed my two days of sweat and near tears worth a ball cap and pen that my dad gave out as promotional items for his trucking company.

Some people are just utterly clueless...

Guess what?  That's not the end!  No sirrree bob!  I have yet at LEAST one more tale to tell...

But I think that my final tale is the very last time I worked for that employer.  At least it's my last memory of it...

Maybe I've blocked the rest out for sanity's sake.

Stay tuned!


KiteFlyer said...

This guy sounds like a piece of work. Could he pinch pennies so tightly that Lincoln would cry?

Marilyn said...

Aren't you lucky that you have such a wonderful dad and your granddad was just that....Grand. You are a better person for what you did and now we can laugh about it and never have to work for that old guy again. Should I print this off and show it to him????

Dawn Castor said...

Man that description of Grandad paying you almost made me cry. And the rest made me shake my head in wonder.