by Matt Rush, Executive Vice President of the Farm Bureau
Farm Bureau Minute
It was my junior year of High School and I won a statewide public speaking contest and the chance to compete at the national competition, which was to be held that year, in Orlando, FL. I was excited! For a Farm Boy from Dora, NM
. . . this was BIG! I mean, I grew up living in THE COUNTRY! We lived so far out in the country that we were told the sun set in between our house and town! Going to school at Dora was considered small even by small standards. It is a true story when I say that I was one of SIX in my class. You know you are in a small class when to be in the top 10 percent you have to be number one! Needless to say, for me to get the opportunity to travel to Florida was a HUGE occurrence in my life. It even made the front page of the Portales News Tribune. I’m pretty sure that was only the third time I had ever even been on a plane.
The memory that is etched in my head actually occurred on the shuttle bus ride from the Orlando Airport to the hotel. I was the last one on the bus and the only vacant seat remaining was on the right side of the bus in the front row. Didn’t bother me, I had a great view of Florida right out the front window. Quickly, I discovered that there were a few minor differences between New Mexico and Florida. Most, for me, could be summed up in two words . . . trees and humidity. I am glad we outlawed both at Statehood. The other major piece of culture shock was the shuttle bus driver. I had NEVER seen someone drive down the interstate, rapping to his own “Boys in the Hood Air Band”.
I thought to myself, “Self, we ain’t in New Mexico no more.”
Whenever the driver finished his little tune he turned right to me and said, “So man, where you from?”
I proudly said, “I’m from New Mexico.”
That bus drivers eyes just about popped out of his head!
He turned back to me and said in the most sincere, inquisitive voice . . . “How, did you get across the border?!?!”
Me being the practical joker that I am said, “I swam.”
“REALLY?!?!” he said as his eyes bugged out even farther.
“That’s right. Then we had to walk to the airport.”
I nodded my head to reassure him that I was telling him the ‘gospel’ truth.
He said, “I can’t believe I’ve got ‘one of you’ on MY bus! Do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“Not at all.” I said confidently.
He said, “Do you people celebrate Christmas down there?”
I said, “Absolutely. We even celebrate the 4th of July!”
He popped that head back around and said, “That’s amazing!”
We arrived at the hotel and as I stepped off the bus I turned to him and said in my best TexMex voice, “Bueños Dias Senior!”
From the drivers seat, up on high, he stuck his hand down at me and said, “I’d like to shake your hand and be the first to say, welcome to America!”
I said I was glad to be in Florida and it was my pleasure to ride his bus. He beamed with a smile from ear to ear.
To this day I’m convinced that there’s a hotel shuttle bus driver in Orlando telling his passengers about the blonde headed, blue eyed, white New Mexican that rode his bus once.
What’s the point you say? Well, I thought you’d never ask.
Don’t you think that’s how we operate in agriculture?
When it comes to our urban friends we might as well be from a foreign country even though we might live right down the street. They don’t know who we are, where we’re from or why we do what we do. When they do meet one of us they usually look at us with curious bewilderment and ask questions that we feel are as ridiculous as, “Do you people celebrate Christmas down there?”
In these current times, the disconnect between the American farmer or rancher and the average American consumer could make the Grand Canyon look like an irrigation ditch.
The most important question is where did the disconnect come from? We all know that those of us in agriculture are completely content to sit on a tractor or a horse and just do our jobs. In the void of our voices our “customers” have forgotten who we are and more importantly, why we do what we do.
The Tractor and the Horse are our jobs, we just can’t forget to stop long enough to tell those we meet who we are and why we do what we do. n
PS: I knew I would leave a legislator out last month
and sure enough I did. I don’t know how any of us could
overlook President-Pro Tem Tim Jennings. Sorry Senator!