Since the beginning of my time, I have admired men in boots. It’s a respect thing. The men who have taught me what I wanted to know wore boots. There have been many loafer wearing people who have been compelled to teach me. I have always questioned why these people were motivated to teach me Algebra or rules or Sunday school songs or the traffic laws. Don’t get me wrong. I have learned and used valuable information from people who were wearing slide on shoes but most of what I have learned, I’ve learned from people who wore boots. The music teacher who gave me an appreciation and understanding of music structure. He wore a pair of slip on loafers with a tassel on top of each shoe. I have been friends with my banker for over 15 years and in that time he has taught me all kinds of things about personal and business financial matters. He wears his loafers because they are part of his occupations wardrobe. He wears boots when he doesn’t have to dress up for work so I consider him a boot wearer and he’s OK in my book.
I was raised by a man who wore slip on shoes because his chosen occupation was The Preacher at the Southern Baptist Church in town. I was your typical preachers son, I rebelled against everything and I was good at it. I rebelled at such an elevated level that the preacher gave up hope on me and when I was 13yrs old he said to me “You will not listen to me. If you ever want my advise you will have to ask for it. I’m done trying to get you to do right”. for the next four years we avoided each other as best we could. At 17 I joined the Army just to get away.
When I was a kid there were a few men in our community that I would spend my time with. These were the men that raised me and they all wore boots. The man that lived across the road from us was in his 30’s when I was 7yrs old and he had an 40’s model Chevy coupe. I would be at his house every time his garage door opened. We worked on everything from the lawn mower and weed eater to the washing machine. His wife would bring us sandwiches when he had a major project going and Mr. Al would share with me some of his knowledge and a whole lot of history. I don’t recall ever seeing him in anything other than work boots. He taught me about hand tools and leverage, how to read a tape measure and how to shake hands “like a man”.
Mr. Jone’s wife hired me to do some chores and stack some firewood when I was 12. When Mr. Jone’s got home he fussed at his wife for hiring me to do what he would of got around to but then he took the time to inspect what I had done. He then asked if he could call on me if ever a project came up that he needed help with. “Yes Sir. I would like that.” For the next 5 years Mr.Paul and I worked on everything from roofing houses and hanging drywall to how to clean a gun and field dress a deer. From 15 to 17, I ate more meals with his family than I did with my own. Mr. Paul wore boots and he was suspicious of anyone who didn’t.
The man who taught me to weld wore boots. So did the man who taught me to fish and work on motors. So did the man who taught me about carpentry and hunting. The people who have taught me about motorcycles and refurbishing old cars and trucks all wore work boots. These men also taught me other things. Some good some bad. How to get into trouble. How to respect a woman. How to deal with people. How to be considerate of others and how to be open minded and accepting of others. These men also taught me how to be a man. To stand up for the weak. To be honest. To not spread gossip. To confront the person I have a problem with. I have learned that people who wear work boots are more likely to be worthy of my trust than people who wear loafers. I have been fooled a few times and it has shook me to my foundation once or twice. I have known the man who wore work boots because he was portraying an image. That man was not being honest with me or himself. He didn’t fit in those boots and come to find out, that was not the only fake thing about him.
One of the things that was taught to me was an understanding that if I was open minded enough I would find that there are some people who don’t wear work boots who are great people. I have met a few who wore cowboy boots and a small few who even wore loafers that were some of the greatest people on planet Earth. One of the things I have learned and that has served me well is this… “People like people who are like themselves”. go ahead and read that again. You look at any picture of any group of people and all the people in that picture are dressed the same. To get along you have to fit in with the group you are trying to fit into. Go to the local diner one morning and look at the people sitting at the lairs table. all of them are dressed the same. Now if these people are not open minded, they will never open up and welcome someone who is wearing shoes that are different than what they are wearing. lets say tennis shoes. It takes an open minded person to make friends with someone who is not like themselves. But an open minded guy wearing work boots can meet some of the best people.
At the Sturgis rally this year I was working with Cycle Source Magazine and Rally TV. We were set up next to a Female Roller Derby team and their track. Being neighbors we shared a few meals together, a bike ride for a photo shoot and more than a few beers at night around a hobo burn barrel. The owners of these chucks was, in my opinion, the leader of the Derby team. One evening after a small mini bike wreck, I was laid out next to the burn barrel and I had a conversation with the owner of these shoes.. As the captain of the Roller Derby team and an on air radio personality, I was highly impressed with this 24 yr. old lady, the depth of her knowledge and the passion she had found in her life. We talked for over an hour and we have maintained contact sense then. I was impressed with the quality of this lady, the fact that she is 24 and beautiful had no bearing on our time together. She is an old soul and I am glad that I met her. I know that she would be just as comfortable in a pair of work boots.
Put on your boots. Get on your bike and ride. Be open minded when you meet someone. Enjoy the uniqueness of each person you encounter. Don’t write him off because he is 70 yrs. old. Give him time and he will tell you about when he was 17 and rode his Ducati motorcycle from Florida to Wisconsin to see his grandmother. ya, true story. Give people a chance, they will enrich your life. Then ask yourself, does he fit in his work boots.??
Until next time… PEACE&GREASE
Written by: Don Wood