Frances and I used to walk five or six blocks from a parking place to wherever we were going. "'Zat right?" you say. Yes! We lived and taught in San Antonio, the Alamo City, and if we could find a parking place that close to our destination we would gladly take it. On the local level, parking that far away would be like parking at Brookshire's or the video store and walking to a store on the west side of the square. Being from the country, though, we think we should be able to park right in front of the door of the place we're going. Never mind that we may walk a mile or two at night or walk a whole pasture looking for a baby calf or walk a long way spraying mesquite sprouts. (It's fairly shocking to figure how far you walk if you build a quarter mile of five-wire fence!)
We Real Country Boys are not conservative with our parking room. I guess this is because we're use to parking on the turn rows or in the edge of a pasture or in the vicinity of the barn. RCB's can take a pickup and block any other vehicle from coming in or out of a four-lane drive. When this happens, the pickup is in such a position that you might rightfully think it had run out of gas and just coasted to a stop. Notice the pickups at a cattle auction sometime. If there had been a parking attendant, about half the room in the lot would be left, but as it is they're turned every which way. On the other hand, these same drivers can use a tractor and grain drill to plant a field and drive with such precision that when the wheat comes up it looks like it was planted with one drill that was as wide as the field. Go figure.
When RCB's come to town, we'll probably drive around a block several times looking for a parking place that's just a little bit closer. Let me paint you a picture: You see a woman coming out of a store and it looks like she's headed to her car. You stop in the street thinking you can have her place. Oh, really! She gets halfway to her car, then whirls around and goes back to look in the store window, leaves at least once and goes back again. She sees another woman coming out of a different store and stops so this second woman can open a sack and show her what's in it. She fakes wide-eyed, open-mouthed surprise, then finally she goes and gets in her car. You think, "Oh boy, I won't have to hold up the traffic behind me much longer." 'Zat right? Really, now! You see the woman looking and scrambling around in her purse and finally dumping the whole mess (excuse me, contents) in the passenger seat. She reads some notes and grocery lists, then discovers her keys are in the ignition. She starts putting stuff back in her purse, except for a pile she has left out to throw away. At this point she actually starts her car, the brake lights come on and then the back-up lights, but the car still does not move. What in the wide world of wonder is she doing now? I can tell you what she's doing because I was walking up the street and saw the whole thing. You ready?... You sure? She got ahold of the rear view mirror with her right hand, yanked it around to the left, leaned toward it and looked at her teeth! Go figure, I mean really.
Let me paint you one more picture. You're driving slowly along the street waiting on that good parking place and you see a woman coming out of a store. Then you see a Real Country Boy who's just walked up to his pickup and noticed a flat on the left back tire. He's already coming over the edge of the bed with a jack in one hand and a lug wrench in the other. Which of these parking places should you wait for? It's a no-brainer--wait on him. I'll guarantee you he won't look at his teeth before he backs out.
Stan Johnson lives and works in Nolan County. Comments about this column can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org .