As I waited in the lobby of the eye surgical center this morning, I was lucky enough to share the space, and the waiting, with a rancher who was doing the same for his wife.
We discussed all the things you aren't supposed to discuss: Religion, politics, subsidies, and how the price for beef on the hoof doesn't cover the feed bill.
I would put him in his late 70's. He was, obviously, a man who had spent most of his time outdoors. Ranching is like that.
His face was worn with deep lines and a deep color that is permanent, not seasonal like a summer tan.
He wore a winter-weight brown felt cowboy hat and clean but well-worn pants and shirt. Bits of mud still clung to his brushed boots, where the sole and leather came together.
His eyes were a deep bright blue, full of life and enthusiasm. He was well-informed, abreast of the latest news.
He laughed at "those crazy Democrats" and was ashamed of the Republicans who were acting like "scared cockroaches when the light comes on.”
It was a true pleasure to talk with him. He reassured me my man would be fine in a couple of days, with his sight much improved.
When his wife came out, he carefully led her to a seat and said he'd go get the truck. She sat and was just as personable as her husband.
She had her second eye done today and could barely contain her excitement. We chatted and laughed for a few minutes, before he pulled up and stopped his truck near the door.
She never stopped talking. I smiled and watched the old guy get out of his truck and open the door on her side. He made sure nothing was going to be in her foot way.
Still, she chatted on.
She waited until he came in and escorted her through the door and into their vehicle. They both wished my husband luck at the door. The gentleman said how nice it had been to talk with me.
He held her arm to assist her in the truck and closed the door securely.
I thought they surely had re-enacted that scene a million times. She expected him to escort her and open the doors; he expected her to wait until he did it. He showed her deference and honor.
I could tell she was tough as nails when she needed to be, and more than capable of walking to the truck herself. But she accepted his assistance because she honored and respected him.
We could learn a great deal from people like them.