By Jody Fuller
I love talking to folks. More importantly, I love listening to folks. I talk extensively in my motivational talks about the importance of listening. There are a variety of reasons to do so. One, it’s the polite and courteous thing to do. It’s that simple. Listen. Secondly, you may learn something—regardless of the party, you will learn. Lastly, they may say something funny. Humor is funny. Literally. And, humor can get us through even the most difficult situations.
But for any of this to happen, we have to be willing talk to people, which is something I have a gift for, whether I know them or not. In this case, I knew the guy, although it had been a long time.
Lucy and I stopped at the feed store to get some hay for her horses. Her horses. Not mine. My love for horses stopped and ended the day I fell off one. It wasn’t pretty. I was a bloody mess. I was only eight years old, and that concrete next to the front door at K-Mart was hard.
As we pulled up, I saw a gentleman that I thought was a guy that I knew, but other than a brief encounter following his mother’s funeral a couple of years ago, I had not seen him in well more than 30 years.
Still, I was pretty sure it was him and approached him to say hello. As I got closer, I saw his name on his work uniform. It was, indeed, him. He was getting horse feed, too.
He comes from a great, country family. I mean “collard green county” and I love them all dearly. We’re actually distant cousins. “Cuddins” to them. Of course. I’m cuddins with just about everybody in these parts.
He’s a mechanic—a very good mechanic; however, in the mid-80’s he lost a thumb in an accident. I’d always assumed it was related to his occupation. I mean, accidents happen. Things happen. Ask Forrest Gump. It happens.
Boy, was I wrong regarding the events involving the loss of his thumb! I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to be wrong. He was, dare I say, horsing around.
As stated, the last time I saw him was at his mom’s funeral, which is not exactly the time and place to talk about a severed thumb. After several minutes of catching up, I looked down and saw his hand. It looked perfectly fine, sans the thumb. It didn’t seem to faze him.
We were cutting up, so I just flat out asked him what happened. I’m 11 years younger than he is, so I don’t know if I was ever privy to the information. I prefaced my question by telling him that I’d recently written an article about a man with a missing index finger who liked to have fun with his nub. He got a kick out of it.
“I lost mine skiing,” he said.
I cut him off and told him that I never knew he was a skier. He just didn’t appear to be the skiing type, be it on the water or on the slopes.
“Wait. I’m not done,” he shot back, with a big, ole collard green eating grin on his face. “It was 1985. I was skiing…behind a three-wheeler … on a dirt road.”
I’ve never even heard of such shenanigans, yet, somehow, I could see him skiing on a dirt road. A. Dirt. Road.
Another friend, probably a cousin too who is younger than I am, was pulling him on this fateful day when they somehow got a little too close to a tree. I won’t go into the humorous, yet graphic details — it’s not needed — but we were both laughing so hard. He said it was getting dark, so they just left it on the ground. His mother had to go back and find it in the dark.
I took a giant step backwards so he wouldn’t punch me and then said, “That’s about the redneckiest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.” He agreed, so we laughed even harder.
He even state that he’s a better mechanic minus the thumb on one hand, because he’s able to get his hand in places where others can’t—talk about your silver lining!
“LUCY!!!! Come here. Come hear.” I yelled. “You gotta hear this!”
The next day, I had to take the hay back and ran into two older gentlemen. That’s a whole ‘nother story, but it started like this.
“What kind of horses does your wife have?” one asked.
“A black one and a grey one,” I said.
Go talk to and listen to a stranger today. Trust me. Why? Go re-read the first paragraph.
Jody Fuller is a comic, a speaker, and a soldier. He can be reached at email@example.com. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com.