Smarts Win

Brother Dave said he knew a hippie who could beat me assembling partitions, beat me like that proverbial rented mule. But that won’t true. Nobody I ever saw could beat me at assembling partitions, especially a hippie.

The fact that I hadn’t made any partitions in 25 years, since my wife, Donna, and I moved to Knightdale, N.C., from Charlotte in 1971, really didn’t matter. Give me a few days, I’d be just as fast as ever.

Dave was telling me about this hippie because, in 1996, I started making partitions again, driving on weekends to Queen City Container, his box shop in  Charlotte.  I needed the extra money. Dave and I had decided to buy an ATV to ride up at Snowbird, in the mountains of North Carolina, and an ATV was a luxury I couldn’t afford. 

But it was all just a bunch of talk, on his part and mine, because I was never going to get to go head to head with this guy.

And then, one Saturday afternoon, in walked the hippie. I knew who he was right off — he had rings in his pierced ears. I had been back at it, assembling partitions, for several weekends and had regained my old form.  And on this day, I was already warmed up, rolling, ready to show him who was who.

You know where this is going, don’t you. He did beat me, badly.  And he didn’t even know we were racing.

When I knocked off work I stood nearby and watched him for a few minutes.  I was surprised. He wasn’t beating me at my own game — he had a different, faster, way of putting partitions together.  I asked him about that. Instead of copying the way other people made them, he told me, he had spent a whole day trying to figure out the best way.

He wasn’t just faster than me, he was smarter.

NOTE: For another partition assembling story, see “Motivating With Money,” posted on Dec. 1, 2017

Coming Friday: Pretty Woman

The Intruder

I was alone at Snowbird, in the mountains of North Carolina, and it was as dark as a closet in the three-sided shed where I was sleeping.  We had never had any trouble up there but since I was alone I put a flashlight and a loaded .410 shotgun within easy reach of my rack before I went to sleep.

I was asleep on the middle rack on he right.
I was asleep on the middle rack on the right.

The noise that awakened me  frightened me.  I wanted it to be a mouse scrounging around for something to eat. But I knew it wasn’t, it was something a lot bigger than a mouse.

I don’t have a brave bone in my body, but I can’t stand the tension. In a situation like that I have to have resolution. Someone or some thing is going to get hurt, me maybe, but we are going to have resolution.

I dropped my hand down beside the rack, felt for the shotgun, and quietly pick it up. I cocked it and, at the same time, turned on my flashlight.

The intruder was a skunk.

This isn't the skunk I shot, but he looks like him.
This isn’t the skunk I shot, but he looks like him.

I turned the light off immediately and lay there, quietly. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. I don’t know how long I waited — it seemed like a long time — before I switched the light back on.

The skunk had been walking away from me, back to the woods. He stopped when my light came on and turned as if to say, “You’re shining a light in my face?  Well, we’ll see about that.”  And he began walking back toward me.

I pulled the trigger, I shot him before he could shoot me.

Coming Friday: My Teacher