Perspective, Part Two

Part two of a two-part post.  Read the first part here.

At the close of our weekend, after we’d played a little hockey with his friends and visited DQ (Scoops downtown not yet open for the day), I brought M back up to Sioux Falls to meet his dad and get back to his last week of school before summer vacation.

On the way up, I spotted a hitchhiker on the southbound side just south of Sioux Falls.  On my way back about a half hour later, he was still there, and now having an extra seat in the truck, I picked him up.

He was heading home to Iowa from Helena, Montana by way of North and South Dakota–he’d been working concrete construction (a business both my father and brother have been in) and had been on the road for days or maybe weeks–working a little as he went, sleeping under bridges or in shelters or wherever he could find a dry, warm spot.

I’ve never heard a person exclaim that much excitement to be getting back to Iowa.

He was only a couple years younger than I am, and he’d done a fair amount of hitching in his life.  He said to me that things had gotten a lot less friendly and rides a lot fewer and farther between in the last few years.

Not only that, he’d noticed a real change in the last couple of years in how readily people express their contempt for and insult the homeless and people on the road without their own means of transportation (besides the shoe leather express).

He’d had things thrown at him on the side of the highway, been cursed at and spit on, and been told in no uncertain terms to vacate business premises based on his look and his duffel bags–even when he was just trying to get a shower and something to eat at a truck stop.

We talked a little about the economy and the president, and wondered if maybe the uptick in hatred was a result of people seeing the world changing radically from what they’d always known and been comfortable with–and whether maybe the people who were so hateful toward the homeless were really just scared they might be a lot closer to that themselves–maybe they don’t want to entertain the notion that could ever be them.

Whatever the reasons, I’ve never embraced the idea that a person who doesn’t own a house or a car is somehow less human because of it.

The funniest thing in our conversation was when he realized I was the author of that Argus Leader column he’d really enjoyed Saturday morning, reading it while sitting under a bridge and getting ready for another day on the road.

While I’d hate to be accused of recommending something that turned out badly, I’m always surprised to learn that some people never pick up hitchhikers.

I don’t always–my truck is a two-seater, and I don’t tend to pick up riders if my son is with me (unless I know them), but I also know a little bit about what it’s like to be without a car and even without a home–or just trying to get back to one after time spent out in the fickle world.

I also like to hear the perspective of someone who has been on the road–to know what it’s like out there nowadays for a person trying to make it from place to place on a little money and luck–what places are friendly to people without a support network and which places are best to avoid (Fargo got a thumbs up from my rider–Bismarck an emphatic thumbs down).

The man (whose name, I think I remember, was Mike) got out of my truck at the Vermillion exit in high spirits–“Only a half hour from Iowa!” he said with a grin, and hoisted his duffels out to await the next ride that’d hopefully take him the rest of the way home.

I returned home myself and pulled together a few different things to head back out to the farm and continue working on all those projects–brought my laptop, too, so I could make the last few updates to my class that was going live at midnight.

The first item on the agenda was not actually a desperation project–I mowed a path through the tall grass from the hilltop garden across the lower part of the farmstead to the main gardens–making a couple of passes so that two could walk abreast.

By the time I’d finished that, I couldn’t get much done on the weeds around the backhoe, which broke down above the northeast garden while H was removing trees in preparation for installing the perimeter deer fence.  It was one of those dawning realizations that, I am much too tired to be operating this machinery.

So, I grabbed a few turnip greens from the garden and a couple spring garlic shoots, headed up to the house, started to prep dinner, and turned on my laptop to finish those few course updates for my class going live at midnight.

It was then that I realized that when IT had de-coupled the two sections of my comp classes late Friday afternoon (they were in the same D2L shell, but one section didn’t fill, so is starting later and needs its own shell), every update I had made, every file I’d imported, had completely disappeared.  I was looking at a completely blank slate.

Tabula rasa, baby.

With about three and a half hours to go before the “go-live” time of midnight, I sat down in front of my screen and re-imported all my files and re-entered all my date changes and put the class back to rights.  What saved me was that I’d saved all the most labor-intensive of the updates to my own machine, so I could simply pull them back into the class.

I finished with about an hour to spare and really ready to hit the hay.  I’ve logged back in this morning to monitor student check-ins and to check up on my changes–making sure I didn’t miss something especially glaring in last night’s last-minute frenzy updating frenzy.

Then, because I’m already here on the farm, Ive been able to get out and poke around on some more of my garden projects: replanting the rabbit-ravaged broccoli, hoeing (always hoeing), training the peas to their trellis, and hand-pulling a few weeds.

The rest of the day is likely to include erecting the pole snap bean trellis and planting that to Marvel of Venice beans, figuring out where to put the rest of my parsley transplants, and weeding/hoeing the northcentral garden again.

The whole week looks just gorgeous for getting stuff done on the farm–and besides CSA deliveries tomorrow and the market on Thursday, there’ not much else to do but farm–and keep my class pulled up on the laptop to check in on during each break from the field.


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