Even with a few work-sized kids on a two hundred and sixty-five acre dairy and crop farm, Dad sometimes found it useful to hire extra help. He’d drive over to Pembroke and find one or four guys to help with hauling hay or cutting tobacco. William Cross was one that he always counted on and the one I liked the most. Even as a ten-year-old kid, I noticed a difference between William and some of the others.
In the hay field, William would always take two rows of bales. Some of the others would only pick up one, at least until Dad yelled for them to do two. Actually, Dad never yelled but managed to get the point across, anyway. Some of the men would figure out which way we were circling the field and always take the inner side so they wouldn’t have to walk as far. These were the same guys who wanted to stay on the outside of the hay barn and unload the wagon because it was cooler and easier.
I’ve seen the same scenarios play out no matter where I’ve worked. There are always people quite willing to shoulder more than their fair share of the work and always others more than willing to let them. There are those who always seem to know how to stand on the short side of the wagon, so to speak. Those who will let someone else pick up the extra bale, let someone else take the hottest spot in the loft, the longest row in the field.
Dad and William both noticed these same things. William would tilt his head down as he picked up a bale, lift those dark eyes up toward them, and grunt in a low voice, “Humph. Yep.” He’d look at me and nod and I knew that grunt was a whole paragraph. But William just went on, working as William worked. As for Dad, he’d tell them once to pick up the two rows. And, the next time he drove into town to get extra help, they’d still be in Pembroke when he got back to the farm.
In our age of unions, tenure and eager litigation, it’s not always that simple. Even in those simpler days of bygone years and eras, an old tentmaker urged believers to “work heartily, as for the Lord.” He knew that it was easy to become discouraged when we feel unappreciated, when our efforts seem to go unnoticed and things are not always fair. But he also knew that those who continue to lift the extra weight, walk the extra steps, or take the extra duty have a satisfaction that the others will never know. And then, they will have the Lord’s reward on top of that.
So, let’s keep totin’ those bales and remember who it is that we really work for. And, just for the practice, let’s slap each other on the back every now and then and say, “Good job!”