Wednesday, August 10, 2011

An embarrassing moment and a lesson in humility

You have to be careful when you have a really nice ride and you do the truck show circuit. You get a little notoriety, and then people are going to want to shake your hand and pat you on the back, even ask for an occasional autograph. It’s pretty easy to get an ego thing going.

A few years ago when I pulling tankers, I had a load rejected by the customer and took it back to the shipper. It was a company on Cicero Avenue in Chicago. The plan was for the shipper to unload the product, run it through a filtering process, and load it back into my tank the next morning. Then I would deliver it back to the consignee.

There was a horse track right across the street and I thought, “If they will let me in with the truck, I’ll just spend the afternoon playing the horses.” Sure enough, the attendants smiled and waved me toward the rear parking lot. No parking fee. I should have known something was wrong right then, being as this was Chicago.

They really had a big crowd gathering, so I got parked and headed for the entrance. As I walked that way, several people wanted to stop me and shake and howdy. I kind of sloughed them off. I thought they just wanted to talk to me about my big shiny truck. But I was in a hurry as I figured it had to be about post time, and I wanted to get down on the daily double.

Ain’t no lightbulb went off yet. It wasn’t until I got to the entrance and was looking around for ticket booths that I realized there weren’t any. Ticket booths, that is. Guess what? I finally figured out why folks were so friendly. I had crashed a Jehovah’s Witness convention.

Nothing against the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It could have been the Baptists, Methodists or the Spotted Oil Society. It wouldn’t have made any difference. But I could see that I wasn’t at the horse races. They didn’t care one bit about my truck and just wanted to welcome me to their not-so-little clambake. I was rude brushing them off. I suppose I assumed they were going to clamor a bit over me and my shiny truck and when they didn’t, it left me embarrassed and with a lesson in humility under my belt.

In my life, I’ve been able to do a few things that sure make a person a bit conceited. Showing our truck was one and writing for Land Line Magazine is another. I have to keep the ego in check. But I’ve learned how to handle it. When I feel an ego trip coming on, I just think about a story Little Jimmy Dickens tells on the Grand Old Opry.

Little Jim says he and his Country Boys band went to a nursing home there in Nashville and did a concert for the folks living there. I am betting he was older than many in his audience. As Jim and the band were doing their show, Little Jim noticed a little elderly lady in the front row who just sat there. Never clapped or showed any emotion.

After the concert, Jim asked her if she enjoyed the show. She didn’t respond. Then Little Jim asked her if she knew who he was. She said, “No, but if you ask that nurse over there, she will tell you who you are.”

Wouldn’t that knock your ego warranty back in place?