If you were to survey gate guards, you would find among us a consensus that not all, but almost all of the folks who pass through our gates are polite and pleasant. On rare occasions, someone’s had a little too much to drink, or a little too much power or not nearly enough sleep; but overall it’s a pretty congenial bunch.
Once and a while you run into someone who relates to the world around them based on where they see others in the food chain. If an oil field drill site were a pond, we gate guards wouldn’t even be minnows. Maybe more like tiny pieces of plankton.
He drove up in a big red truck, wearing a big white hat. I asked the reason for his visit? I thought he was a salesman, but I didn’t know what he was selling.
Instead of answering my question, he simply said his last name.
While I was still trying to figure out what his product was, he started to drive on in. I stopped him. He became agitated and said his last name again, with great conviction.
Possibly the bright orange vest had blinded him to the RV plate from Iowa and the Jeep plate from Oregon. If that name means something in Texas, he was talking to the wrong Yankee. He used his last name like a definition. He was a man who didn’t need a first name. Kind of like Cher and Seal and Elvis and Bono and Lassie don’t need a last name, except I’ve heard of them.
He gave his name. He said he was going in to look things over. I said he wasn’t. His wife tried to intervene several times. Each time she was silenced with a glance. She wore the resigned look of one who’s been in that same moment a million times before. I remained polite, he remained belligerent. He told me about all the land he owns in this county and in other counties where his wells are pumping night and day. And, no gate guard had ever tried to stop him before. I didn’t feel affronted or offended. I did feel sad that their world, overflowing with mailbox money, had left them so disappointed.
As his wife covered her mouth with her hand, I listened to his explanation of his significance to society. I still withheld the hall pass. I didn’t argue. I didn’t even have a chance to suggest a solution when he suddenly tired of messing with plankton and gunned for the rig, only to slam on his brakes 20 yards later. He’s been defeated by a donkey. Fetus had no intention of stepping aside. A donkey by any other name is still a donkey, and Festus is definitely a donkey.