County Agent Guy
Some signs of our times:
- A farmer friend told me that he just received his economic stimulus payment. “I’m going to use the money to buy hand sanitizer,” he said wryly. He noted that a local microdistillery recently switched from making corn whiskey to producing hand sanitizer. They’re struggling to keep up with the demand for their ethanol-based disinfectant.
- I recently chatted with a lady who had spent two long days video conferencing. “I’m all Zoomed out!” she exclaimed.
- A suspicious email claimed that the pandemic had created an acute shortage of Helvetica but that the sender “happened” to have access to a large stockpile of the font. Even though it was obviously a spam scam, I went online and purchased a year’s worth of Arial typeface. Just in case.
We live in a world that’s vastly different from the one that we had enjoyed for the previous four billion years. While there is no lack of glum reports, there are also innumerable examples of people who are “stepping up to the plate,” “taking lemons and making lemonade,” and striving to “make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.” Before I exhaust our nation’s strategic reserve of tired cliches, here’s a true story that was recently related to me by a friend. I’m sharing it with his permission.
This friend – let’s say his name is “Myron” – lives in a good-sized Midwestern city. Preexisting medical conditions make it imperative for Myron and his wife to use social distancing, much in the same way that it’s imperative for a skydiver to strap on a parachute.
The other day, somebody knocked on Myron’s front door. This was unexpected. During this period of social isolation, the only people to knock on Myron’s door are those who are delivering such critical household supplies as a super-deluxe pizza with extra cheese.
Two boys, aged about eight and ten, were standing on Myron’s sidewalk. They were respectfully maintaining a safe distance of fifteen feet or more.
The younger lad was holding a sheet of paper. He began to read from the script that was scrawled upon it.
“Hello, our names are Josh and Dustin Anderson (not their real names) and we live down the street. We have started a service called J & D Poo Scooping. Do you have a dog? If you do, we would like to scoop poo for you.”
Myron replied that they didn’t own a dog. The boys, disappointed but not dispirited, turned to walk away.
Wait a minute, said Myron. The boys stopped.
I’m sorry that we don’t have a dog, said Myron, but I think what you guys are doing is awesome. Starting your own business at a time like this is inspiring. Keep up the good work and best of luck!
The boys broke into broad grins. We’re gonna rake leaves in the fall, they said. Can we stop back then?
Myron said that he would be happy to make use of their raking service and told the boys to be sure to check back in the autumn.
One of the good things about this pandemic, Myron told me, is that when you stroll through the neighborhood, you actually get to see your fellow citizens. They’re no longer driving hither and yon as they rush their kids to soccer or ballet or chainsaw juggling class.
Myron said that it’s comforting to see his neighbors as he and his wife take strolls. Everyone is keeping their distance from others, but it’s nice to see the faces of the folks who live in the neighborhood even if all they’re doing is waving at passersby from their decks.
Shortly after the visit from the two budding dog poo entrepreneurs, Myron and his wife went out for their daily constitutional. As they passed the Anderson house, they saw that the boys’ dad was doing some yard work.
Myron told the father that his sons had recently stopped by their house. The dad apologized, saying that he was sorry that his boys had bothered them.
No need to apologize, said Myron. In fact, I think the boys should be encouraged. They should be praised for their initiative. They’re an example for us all.
The father smiled. Those two little guys have already made $40, he said, shaking his head. I’m just glad that they’re getting less screen time.
This story is just one of many that illustrates how our great nation can “roll with the punches” and proves that “every cloud has a silver lining.”
Carry on, little poo scooper dudes! You’re an inspiration! And don’t forget to check the bottoms of your shoes before you come back into the house.
Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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