Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Shovel Ready Idea

"Do you think any of them idiots up there in Washington can get this country back working again?"

It was one of the opening queries a member of the group would toss out to get things rolling again when the conversation lagged.

They were a varied bunch of men; not quite old but getting there, friends sharing a bond going back to their small town school years, the last of which had ended nearly fifty years ago. Now they got together about once a month to drink coffee, eat some doughnuts, and remain friends. They might reminisce a little, but a lot of the talk centered on families - usually on some current stupidity of their grown children, or the infallibility of their misguided grandkids. Some fishing and hunting stories would arise from the outdoorsmen in the bunch; and, of course, there were individual health issues to discuss.

Their meeting place was a converted garage of one of their members. The space where Kiah Worley's old pickup once parked was now occupied by a vinyl picnic table. In one corner a wood burning stove smoldered, now that it was winter. The pungency of its smoke, leaking from the disjointed chimney pipe, bit slightly at the eyes and nose. Deer antlers lined the walls, and on a shelf above the coffee maker a huge skull of a feral boar hog rested, its disquieting tusks thrusting up from the lower jawbone like primeval scimitars. No specific sign hung above the entrance, but just the same, all self-respecting wives and other assorted females – except for the dogs – knew not to come in there, even if they'd wanted to. Naturally, none did, that is, come in or want to.

Politics came up from time to time, but not often. Like religion, it was a touchy thing which could intensify into heated and un-resolvable arguments, so they tried to leave it alone. Unspoken, they all pretty much felt their friendships were more important than political opinion. However, given the current state of the Union, it couldn't always be avoided.

The group remained silent after the question, shaking their heads and sipping their coffee. Most believed the query had a rhetorical nature.

Hayward Yost, a retired dairyman who'd worked seven days a week from sun up to sun down for well over half a century, decided to take the floor. "My granddaughter, who's ten, said to me the other day, 'Someday I want to be President.'"

"Why do you want to do that? I asked her.

"So I can help all the poor people, she said.

"And how would you do that? I asked.

"Well, there are a lot of rich people in this country. I'd make them give more money to the government so we could give it to the poor people.

"That's really a noble idea, I told her. But you don't have to wait until you're president; you can help poor people right now.

"Really? How? she asked.

"I've got a ton of jobs around my place I need help with, I told her. It'll take you about a day to do them, but I'll pay you two hundred dollars for your work.

"Two hundred dollars?! she said. She seemed pretty impressed.

"Yep, I answered. But you've got to promise me you'll give one hundred fifty of it to some poor people. You get to keep the rest for yourself."

"Okay, she said, but it appeared she'd lost some of her enthusiasm. She stopped to think a minute. Hey, Grampa, she said. I've got an idea. Let's go to some poor people, and tell THEM about the work you have and let THEM do it for the two hundred dollars. And I'll still do my fifty dollars' worth of the work."

The men around Kiah Worley's garage table all got a good laugh from Hayward's tale. After they all settled down, Buck Buchanan asked, "What'd you say to her?"

Hayward smiled and grabbed another doughnut from the box. "I told her I thought that was a much better idea. An idea worthy of a future president."


Want to read more about Hayward and his friends? Use these links to check out my novels:
Legends of Tsalagee