Treat Others How You Want to Be Treated
By Axie Barclay
The last couple months we’ve focused on relationships and positive ways to build and maintain them. To wrap, here are some ways to kill relationships deader than my baby tomatoes that got frosted by a freak April snowstorm.
1. Being Negative
Scenario: It’s a beautiful spring day after a particularly harsh winter. It’s breezy and partly sunny a little cool still, but far better than the thirty below zero it hit a few weeks prior. There are buds on the trees and birds singing. The cattle are lying out on a dry spot on the sunny side of the hill, most of them lying flat out on their sides, soaking up the sunshine. Two farmers are standing on the fencerow, shooting the poop. The first farmer says to his buddy, “Nice day out.”
“Nice?” the other responds. “Nice? The creek’s flooded the lower pasture and the dang tile’s busted so the pond won’t drain. The back forty got hit hard from that drought last year and came through the winter like cow manure on a white fence, probably get aphids this summer and kill off the rest of it. I’ll have to plow it under and lose a year’s production out of it. The electric fence by the pond is under water and won’t heat all the way around. The bull hurt hisself this winter and my cows probably aren’t bred. The calves haven’t been castrated yet and that’ll be a huge chore now that they’re so big. My truck broke down, my dog’s gettin’ old and stiff, my wife’s a nag. It snowed last week. It’ll probably rain next week. Then it’ll be hot as bejesus before we freeze again. What’s nice about today?”
The first farmer chewed the stem on his piece of grass, eyed his friend, then moseyed off and went to shovel out some horse stalls. Because shoveling horse crap was better than listening to that crap.
2. Being Selfish/ Apathy
Scenario: Every day the farmer came in and asked his wife how her day was, what she did, and she chattered on and on (and on) about it, but more typically got on the phone and talked to her mother about it. She never asked her husband what he did. If he tried mentioning anything he was excited about, a new mower conditioner or the brockle-faced cow’s bull calf, his wife just grunted and went on about her business. When her husband started staying out late and being evasive when she’d asked him where he’d been, his wife followed him. When she burst in on him, she expected him to be clasped in the arms of another woman. Instead, he sat at the local bar with her mother.
“What is this?” the wife demanded.
“I just needed someone to listen to me and act like they cared,” he said.
3. Being Petty
Scenario: George and Tom were coworkers at the mill for years and had become pretty good friends, until one day Tom stopped talking to George and George never did understand it. Then one day some years down the line the river flooded and carried Tom’s house down the banks with Tom still in it. George was a first responder and arrived on scene with the helicopter. He hollered for Tom to climb up but Tom sat stubbornly atop his floating house and refused to budge.
“I won’t take help from you,” Tom said.
“Why ever not?” George asked. (This might not be precisely what George said, but they don’t make enough asterisks to really capture the flavor of the moment.)
“Well you remember back in…” and he rattled off some infraction that George had no memory of. “Well it happened,” Tom insisted. “And I’m still peeved about it.”
“Well Tom, I don’t know what to say except I’m sorry.”
“It’s too late for that,” Tom said. “And I don’t want your help. I’ll just sit here until the Good Lord sends help.”
(For those of you who are clever guessers or have heard this joke before, George was the help and Tom drowned and when he got up to heaven and asked God about it, God replied, “I sent the National Guard, a helicopter, and your coworker to help. What more do you want from me?”)
As I said in the beginning of this series, I’m only an expert in my own relationships. When the spousal-type creature and I made of the “rules” of our relationship, we basically came up with two. 1) Treat me the way that you want to be treated. And 2) don’t sleep with other guys. (Arguably, the second ties back into the first, but that’s largely a semantics issue that doesn’t bear getting into right now.) Basically, be conscious of how your actions affect the people around you—friends, family, lovers, and coworkers—and act accordingly. Other people matter, but you get to choose who matters most, who you let into your bubble, and how you treat them. While you can’t control how others react to you, you can control how you react to them. Life is too short to have a bad attitude. It doesn’t pay off in the end to hold grudges, pick fights over petty things, be resentful, hateful, or just plain absent. Sometimes lack of a response hurts just as much as flat out neglect. Be conscious of the people around you, and receptive to their needs. Especially if you want them to be receptive to yours. Who knows, maybe we all can have the dirty little secret of a happy relationship. Wouldn’t that be a shame?
Labor Pains by C.A. Huggins – This is a fun book, especially if you give it the time to get warmed up. I’m a big fan of humor where you shake your head and, even as you’re laughing, have to say “That’s so wrong.” This book is chuck-full of “that’s so wrong” kind of humor, the kind you’ll want to read aloud to your spouse and get them to laugh with you.
Treason by Don Brown – Yes, that’s DON not DAN. This Brown writes military thrillers, and darn good ones. Treason is the first in the series and was quite enjoyable. The writing was solid, story tight, and books seem to deal with hot-button issues. The only thing that, in my opinion, keeps this from being a best-seller is the sections that get deep into faith. It’s perfectly fine, especially for the characters, but as far as targeting a commercial audience, this aspect could alienate too many readers. But an incredibly satisfying read over all.
And my favorite…
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – This is simply the most delightful and funny book I’ve read in a long time. It’s the story of a man with Asperger’s syndrome who decides it’s time he gets married. He goes out armed with a questionnaire to help him weed out the duds and find his soul mate. The voice and tone of this book are perfect. I absolutely loved Don’s perspective, to the point where it was another book I bugged the STC with by reading sections out loud to him. In fairness (or in sympathy for my low humor threshold), he laughed. A must-read.
Axie Barclay is a Michigan writer with a cow-habit. Having discovered the joys and potential for growth inalternative agriculture, she quests ever longer and harder for ways to combine farming and writing into a business. When not milking cows, making disgruntled noises at the latest disgusting thing the heeler dogs dredge up, riding horses, or keeping the fence up around her small beef herd, she’s holed up reading an eclectic array of books or tapping out pages. When not working, she enjoys kicking back with her honey, family, and friends at a bonfire with some beers. Chat her up on Twitter and Facebook, /axieb, or http://barclayfarmsandlit.blogspot.com where she delves into literature and agriculture with a relish… and occasionally ketchup. Soon to be homemade.