If you can’t run with the big dogs…

March 23, 2006

There is truth in the old saying, “If you can’t run with the big dogs stay on the porch.” Recently, there have been a couple of occasions when I’ve had to swallow my pride and curl up on the porch while the big dogs ran with the pack.”

Yesterday, as we prepared to leave the forest after a long, hot day of clearance, I was offered a seat in the cab of our big truck. I was seriously tempted to accept the offer and ride “shotgun.” The alternative was a hard seat on a wooden bench bolted to the bed of the truck. My sole reason for declining the comfort of a seat in the cab was my desire to be seen as one of the guys. Bad call.

The ride back to camp was a bone jarring humiliation. Every bump in the road launched me skyward like a human mortar shot. I laughed during the first half of my initial flight. I stopped laughing when I crash landed on the wooden bench. I hardly had a moment to mentally count the number of bones that felt broken when I was launched again. I again landed with a thud on the bench. The only cushioning my bones had was the handkerchief in my hip pocket. Less than a mile into our trip the bench that was intended for comfort had already delivered ten good swats to my backside. By the time we arrived in camp I’d already gotten my birthday spanking for the next couple of years.

I would be lying if I claimed that my pride hurt more than my body. True, my pride was badly bruised, what with the guys that I had hoped to impress laughing at me being pitched about like a rag doll. But, there is this to be said when comparing bruised pride with a bruised but: at supper time, when your pride is bruised, you can still sit down to eat your meal.

Today, I nearly bowled over a couple of guys who had the misfortune to be standing between me and the cab of the truck. They’ll never make that mistake again.

While I may stand a head taller than any man on the crew, I’m not one of the big dogs. We retired geezers are known for spinning “the older I get the better I used to be” tales about our glory days. The truth is that never on my best day; never in my wildest dream, was I the equal to the guys on our team. They are the offspring of tough village stock. They work hard in miserable conditions and go home to few comforts. They don’t complain about the heat, the rain, the insects, or the repetition of boring tasks. They ride in the back of the truck both ways every day and never call “shotgun.” There are some mighty big dogs on our crew and some pups who had better stay on the porch.

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