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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Down On The Farm

I can’t believe school starts Monday. Working has been a huge part of our summer here. It wasn’t planned that way, but seeing summer come to an end, I realize how little playtime we’ve had.

I am back at the nursing home fulltime.

It turns out that my gallbladder is sick of living inside of my body. Not having health insurance means, I’ve had to suck it up for weeks. Since I feel okay on an empty stomach, I’ve been waiting to eat until I can’t wait anymore. Then I eat and lay in bed until the pain stops. It doesn’t hurt so much if I eat plain crackers, bread, toast or rice.

Answered prayers don’t always come the way you want, but you have to take what you can get, right? So the day I was feeling most like shit, I got a call from the nursing home. The girl who works in activities is having her baby sooner than expected, and they needed someone to replace her quickly. They offered me health benefits, which was the answer to my prayers. Now I just have to wait for the paperwork to go through the proper channels and then I can get this sucker out.

On an empty stomach, I get to work at 7:30. By the time I pass lunch trays to the residents at noon, I’m hungry enough to eat a table. Knowing I’ll be too sick to work if I eat, I usually munch on a cracker or two just to get something in my system. I leave at 4:00 feeling hungry enough to eat my steering wheel. It sucks but what can you do, right?

Lane 1 began his summer working as a tutor at the teen center. Lane 2 was upset that her brother was “having fun” and she was bored. As construction started on our porch, she was no longer bored. We worked our butts off on that thing. Then we headed to my in-law’s house and built a deck. All Lane hands played a major role in both big projects. Granted, we didn’t get paid for our mad building skills, but we were working hard nonetheless.

The director of the teen center was singing the boy’s praises around town. She has been here her whole life, and knows everyone. As soon as we returned from Missouri, Lane 1 was asked to bale hay at a local farm. When that job was finished, another farmer hired him to do some concrete work at his place.

Once his work there was wrapped up, we had some concrete work of our own to do. We poured a rounded step and platform at the entrance of our porch. And we poured a slab where the garage is going to be. We built the railings for the porch and primed them. Thank God it has been too hot and humid to paint them.

By the day that work was done, Lane 1 was asked by yet another farmer to come to work at a pig farm. This is where it gets funny. First of all, he’s lucky the director of the teen center thinks highly of his work ethic. Can you imagine just turning 15 and having several job offers come your way?

On his first day, he ate oatmeal, took a shower, put on his least favorite clothes, fixed his hair and headed out with his Mother-made lunch and a jug of ice water. He looked all grown up. Plus, he looked and smelled awful nice to be going to a pig farm.

This was the first job that made me feel all mushy about my 15-year-old growing up. I wake him at 5 a.m., make his lunch, see him out and it’s surreal, still. A mini version of his daddy, off to work. I thought about that boy all day long.

When he came home, he looked at me, shook his head as if it was a rough day, and said hello. I noticed he was clean. His clothes looked like they did when he left the house. It seemed odd and almost suspicious. But the farmer called me and asked my permission for him to work because he is technically too young to work. So I knew it was legit. But why the hell was he so clean?

“Hey Mom, want to hear about my interesting day?”

“You bet I do.”

“Remember how I showered and stuff before I left?”


“Well, as soon as I got to the farm, I had to shower again.”

Thinking he fell into a pile of hog shit, I smiled and asked why.

“Oh, Ma, it’s nothing to smile about.”

That made me laugh. He was so serious.

“I guess people can contaminate pigs with germs and dirt and stuff. So before I start work, the guy tells me to take a shower and hands me a towel and some clothes. Not my clothes, like loaner farmer clothes. I told him I was clean already but he said we all have to do this everyday before we get near the pigs. So whatever, I showered. I go to get dressed and all these other guys are showing up for work. It’s like a big locker room with a shower room. Old farmer dudes just strip right there in front of me and head into the showers. It was so hard to not laugh at their wrinkly old butts. I tried to get dressed discretely and then I see a pair of tighty whities in the pile of clothes the guy gave me.”

He was so serious by this point, it was really hard to hold back my laughter.

“Dude, Ma, it was so not funny! I wrapped my towel back around my waist and asked one of the old guys if I could just wear my own boxers.” With a twang in his voice he continued, “And he said, ‘Sorry son, we all gotta share these-ins.’ So I’m thinking, ‘Great! I gotta wear these-ins after some old farmer’s saggy butt was already in them-ins.’ But I didn’t say anything or complain, Mom. I tried to keep my cool. I put on the tighty whities, only to find out that they weren’t at all tight. They were more like baggy whities. The butt sagged down practically to my knee bends.”

I had tears rolling down my face. There was no holding back my cackling laughter.

Crinkling up his eyebrows, he said, “I hate you.”

That statement made me laugh even more. One of the residents at the nursing home says, with a crinkled face, and her arms crossing her chest, “I hate you” all of the time. Since I told my family about her, we all imitate her when someone says or does something we disapprove of.

“So after you put on your baggy drawers, what happened?”

Twanging again, he said, “Ya know dem dare overalls? Well I reckon that’s proper-like clothin’ fer hangin’ ‘round hogs. So, I done put them-ins on.”

“Oh, son, I bet you looked hot!”

“You bet yer sweet petunias I done did!”

In that twang, he proceeded to tell me all about the rest of his day, and how he showered on his way out, getting back into his own skivvies. He was so funny and so cute, I wish I’d had a video camera rolling. That hard workin’ man who left the house that morning, turned back into that funny little boy of mine.

Tune in next week when I tell you all about Little Lane 2’s first job. Yep, dats rite. The youngin got one too. You’re all invited back again to this locality to have a heapin' helpin' of hospitality. Hillbilly that is. Set a spell. Take your shoes off. Y'all come back now, y'hear?