A few weeks ago I told of my love of a good story and encouraged anyone reading that column to tell their own story. Some stories can not be told until time has passed because of the situation or people involved. This is one of those stories.
Several years ago, late one winter, I was asked by the editor of Farm News to get a photo for the week’s paper for the front page. He wondered if I could get a picture of a train being loaded.
I had driven by a local elevator earlier that day and they were loading a train. I told him I would go there and get the picture.
When I take photos at a business, I consider myself a guest so I ask permission before doing anything. I went to the office and explained what I hoped to do.
I was told I would need to wear a hard hat due to safety requirements and to report to another man who was in charge of loading the train. He was working where the cars were being loaded.
With hardhat on my head and camera in hand, I walked to where they were loading and found the man in charge. He was polite, but did not seem very enthusiastic about having me there.
After 10 to 15 minutes of my photographing, I could see he was getting nervous about me being there. He asked if I could wrap this up. I told him I had enough pictures and I was satisfied.
He asked about getting a copy of the paper with the picture and one of the workers made a similar request. I said I would see they each got one.
As I was leaving, he said he wanted to see the pictures before I sent them in. He said he was concerned about any photos that possibly would show any dangerous situations that could be used against them.
That is an unusual request and the pictures I took were quite straightforward. I did not see where any could be misinterpreted.
I wanted to stay in the good graces of the business because I may want to come back there again someday. I got the man’s e-mail address and said I would send them to him for his review.
A few hours later, after the selected photos were sent to him, he called me and said there was only one picture I could send on to the newspaper. It was a very innocuous one of a man standing on a railcar with the elevator in the background.
I called the editor of the newspaper and told him of the situation. We were against a deadline and he decided to go with what we had, the one and only photo.
A few months later, my son told me he had been sitting in the bar in this same town where I had gotten the photos when he overheard the same two men talking about the guy who had taken their pictures.
They were complaining about what the photographer had done and referring to the photographer (me) by a derogatory name. The name is not suitable for print so I will modify it to Dodge Aspen.
My son listened to them complain about Dodge Aspen for a while and then said to them, “That was my dad who took those pictures.”
A few minutes later they left without saying anything further. My son came home and told me of what he overheard and said.
This elevator is a place that I have done business with and usually sold them 5,000 to 8,000 bushels of soybeans each year as they had a price advantage over my local elevator of around 8 cents a bushel.
I went to my local elevator and told the man in charge that in the future he would be receiving all my soybeans and I told him why.
I concluded by saying, “Look, you can call me Dodge Aspen if you want to. Just don’t say it in public.” We both had a good laugh and they have received all of my soybeans ever since.
My son and I will joke about it if we go back to sell grain at the other elevator, we will tell them to make the check out to “Dodge Aspen.”
The elevator employees who this is about no longer work there and that elevator continues with a price advantage. The 5,000 to 8,000 bushels I sell for around 8 cents a bushel less means my income is reduced each year by about $400-$650.
They say every man has his price. This is about my pride and the price of my pride which is 8 cents a bushel.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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