Monthly Archives: March 2011

Cowboys, Death and Old Books

Part of my job is educating the public on what is expected when they use inmates for Community Service details.  Though boring, it does help to get on the same page.  Most of the citizens (for lack of a better endearing term) are not the same age as me, most of them are at least a decade older.  I find it intimidating, at times, to stand in front of a room full of mostly older, and let’s be honest, “hickish” men.  I mean, they have to be thinking to themselves, what could this little girl possibly know?  I’m not a big person, standing at 5’1″ (though in my mind I’m 6’3″) and about 100 pounds (again, I belive I”m 250).  Most of them are wearing cowboy hats, Wranglers are the only pants worn, they have worn leathery faces and you can see they have worked outdoors most their lives.  This is not me, I’m much more “city” then any of them.  I assume that I’m what they don’t like and fear is ripping apart their America.

Of a room of 30 or so men maybe half of them actually make eye contact.  A man, that I can only explain as looking like a aged Wyatt Earp, paid attention the whole meeting.  He truly was the cowboy of the group and when I first spotted him he seemed the hardest sell of the group, but he truly gave me his full attention.  During the presentation I couldn’t tell if he was staring at me with a condescending attitude or one of understanding. . truly this man should play ALOT of poker.

After wrapping up and as people were leaving he stayed behind and wanted to ask questions.  I asked if he appreciated the meeting and he, with chew in mouth and a drawl like no other said, “didn’t understand a damn word of it pretty lady.”  I didn’t really have a response ready for this reply.  With a blank stare and speechless (that never happens) I just started laughing.  He laughed with me, put his arm around my shoulders and began asking me questions about a past Lieutenant that I had a great friendship with, his nickname was Duck and it truly was the only name he was ever called.  This friendly cowboy asked me if I was the Marcy that Duck always talked about.  I was stunned, I didn’t really think that Duck talked much about me, though we affectionately gave shit to each other on a daily basis.  When Duck died it was devastating to me, it’s actually the LAST funeral I will ever go to, except my own.

Duck was the first employee I met on my first official day of work at Weber County.  I pulled into the parking lot, full of nervous butterflies and walked towards the employee entrance.  I felt a sense of excitement to begin work with a new County, but fear of the unknown.  This may come as a surprise, but I enjoy perfection.  I enjoy knowing what I’m doing and on this day I was full of doubt.  I pushed to button to be allowed into work.  A distorted voice came over the intercom and I gave them my last name.  As they “buzzed” me in, I walked into a dimly lit room.  It had all the charm of an old school jail.  I noticed, immediately, a pair of cowboy books kicked up on a table, skinny legs wrapped in Wranglers, a newspaper blocking the face of this cowboy and a BIG OL’ black cowboy hat.  Right then the door slammed behind me (I know..steel doors don’t shut silently but I was caught up in the scene and wasn’t thinking.)  I quickly looked back at the door.  Realizing it was still me and “the cowboy” I turned back around.  I now saw the face of an older man, hard work was written across his face, with a piercing stare I’ll never forget.  The cowboy then said to me, “who the fuck are you?”  Without missing a beat, and apparently having no regard for my own safety, I retorted, “question is. . . who the fuck are you?”  With this comment the hardened cowboy grinned ear to ear.  With a chuckle he stood up, put his arm around my shoulder and said, “sweety, were gonna get along just fine.”  And you know what. . he was right.  I’ll always have a soft spot for Duck.  Every morning, without fail, he would say, “morning you fuckin’ hag.”  And my retort, daily, would be “Duck… foreplay so early???”  That same endearing smile would spread across his face.  One morning, out of nowhere with no one around, he grabbed me tight, and cried harder than any man I’ve ever known.  No words were exchanged and I just held him tight.  Thirty seconds went by like this. . crying with no words.  He let me go, looked me in the eyes and said, “thank you, you’ll never know what that means to me.”  To this day I don’t know what was upsetting him so badly, and to be honest it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that he trusted me enough to be all of him. . good, bad and indifferent.  He meant so much to me.  The night before he died he called me.  Wanted me to know how much I meant to him and that I was “one of the smartest people he ever met.”  Truth be known, he taught me more than he will know.  He taught me that, even those with hardened faces and piercing stares, still have endearing hearts and are much softer than they appear.  He taught me that, no matter the situation, there is humor and laughter.  He was generous and sincere, though a smartass through and through.  Whenever his name is mentioned these are a few of the thoughts that cross my mind.

After much reminiscing with this older Wyatt Earp I could tell, that he too, was a gentle person with a big heart.  He was funny, and in good cowboy fashion, a smart ass! 🙂  He told me how Duck talked about me and would tell the “guys” at the fairgrounds that I was a “firecracker” and witty.  Duck was a great storyteller and told many stories of our antics at work.  Though it’s been years since Duck died, I think of him often and to know others are too. . that, to me, is what death is about.  It’s about people remembering you and handing down your story.  It’s also a reminder for me to not judge a book by it’s cover.  Just because it’s dusty, wrinkled and scary looking doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a profound message waiting for you. . you just got to be willing to lift open the cover.

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