Rise and Shine
- May 24, 2023
- Jan Swan Wood
One of the first “off the home ranch” jobs I had after I got out of school was on a very remote ranch, working for an elderly couple. I boarded with them as part of my wages. There was another guy who worked for them and ate his lunch there on the days he was around. He had his own place some miles away, so didn’t come over very often.
When school got out the nephew of that guy’s wife was sent out to work for the summer. I don’t know why he wasn’t staying with his aunt, but for whatever reason, he was staying where I was. This kid was probably 15 or so, and truly, as useless as titties on a teddy bear. He had absolutely no ambition or any noticeable skills at anything. He personified the statement “like having good help leave”.
One of the particularly aggravating qualities this kid had was his inability to get out of bed when called to get up. I got up at 4:30 or 5 a.m., depending on what all I had to do that day, and plugged the coffee percolator in as I went through the kitchen. This kid, who we’ll call Jimmy, slept in a room off the kitchen that was also the route to go out the back door. I’d tell him to get up as I went through and then I’d head for the barn to do chores. I’d turn the calves with the nurse cow, grain horses and milk the cow while I was at the barn. Usually I saddled my horse for the day while he ate his grain too. I’d grab the full milk bucket on my way in and arrive at the house ready for my first cup of coffee. My expectations would be that Jimmy would be up and dressed, having had plenty of time to do that.
Several days had passed since his arrival, and not once was he up and dressed when I got back to the house. Now, his upbringing was probably to blame, but he wasn’t at home in the bosom of his loving parents now, and I was fed up with it. I warned him at supper time that the next time he didn’t get up and get dressed when I called him on my way through, that I was going to drag him out of bed when I came back. He blinked stupidly at me, sure that I was kidding. I was not kidding. I had been raised by a man who, when he said “hit the deck” at the door of your room, he meant that he wanted to hear your bare feet smack the floor! I, personally, never found out what the results would be if I didn’t, so I don’t know what Dad would have done, but it wouldn’t have been pretty. So, I grew up with that habit ingrained in me, therefore had expectations that Jimmy just didn’t seem to understand.
So, next morning, I plugged in the coffee pot, cruised through Jimmy’s sleeping room, told him to get up rather firmly, and headed out to do the barn chores. As I came back in, I observed Jimmy sleeping blissfully as I carried the milk bucket through and set it on the counter. I went back out to Jimmy’s room, and lo and behold, his right foot happened to be sticking out from under the covers. I grabbed his leg at the ankle and turned and walked into the kitchen. Jimmy hit the floor rather loudly, yelped and was mortified beyond words to be laying on the floor in the kitchen in his Fruit of the Looms, with a mad woman standing over him. He scrambled out of sight as I poured my cup of coffee and retired to the dining room to drink it.
The lady I worked for came out to start breakfast and was curious about the loud thud she had heard from the other room. I told her it was just Jimmy getting out of bed. She didn’t asked anything else, but her grin told me she knew about what had happened.
Jimmy was red as a radish when he came to the table, fully dressed of course. He couldn’t make eye contact with me for several days over the whole “seen him in his underwear” incident. But, I promise you, that I never, ever had to call Jimmy a second time when I got in from chores. He would be up and dressed and his bed made by the time I returned. Though he was otherwise virtually unteachable, he sure enough learned to get up when told to.
About Jan Swan Wood
Jan was raised on a ranch in far western South Dakota. She grew up horseback working all descriptions of cattle, plus sheep and horses. After leaving home she pursued a post-graduate study of cowboying and dayworking in Nebraska, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota....