Thursday 3 April 2014

Born a Century Too Late

When I grew up in the fifties, westerns were the big TV trend at the time. There were shows like Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, Roy Rogers, Bonanza, The Lone Ranger, Maverick, Wagon Train and The Rifleman. I’m sure that I have forgotten some, but suffice to say that Westerns were a big deal to little Kenny. I had my cowboy had and gun belt strapped on over my pyjamas whenever I watched these shows.
Every week on numerous channels, the good guys would defeat evil land barons, evil railroad men, bank robbers, Indians and of course they would be beaten down by the hardships of life in the old west. Somehow, they would always rise up to the occasion. These heroes with gun belts became my first heroes and I suppose in some ways I fashioned the person I became on these role models. The poor kids of today are going to have blood sucking vampires and dark and brooding super heroes as role models.

I learned that a man should protect those weaker than themselves, he should hold himself up to the highest standard and he should be modest to a fault. I learned that a man’s word is his bond and that right will always be right, even if it is sometimes illegal. Deals were always made on a handshake between two honest men. The only deals that ever seemed to go wrong were the ones that had been written down. There was never a treaty signed with the Indians that wasn’t broken in some way by the greedy white man. Bankers would routinely foreclose on a farmers land, with the law behind them. The railroad would send enforcers out to force the small ranchers and widows to sign away their land, or they would be killed for it.
No, if you can’t trust a person to keep his word then you just can’t trust that person. Well, at least that was the way it used to be in the old west.

I try to fashion my life along the moral rules set out all of those years ago on the TV westerns. I try to be polite to strangers, even the assholes that cut me off on the road. I always hold a door for a woman, unless she is more than fifteen feet away or is walking real slow. I treat my neighbours as I would like to be treated. I ignore them and have as little to do with them as possible. A good neighbour is one that you never hear or see. When I do have to interact with a neighbour, I will smile and give sympathetic looks and sounds when they are appropriate. When asked, I will look after their property when they are away on vacation or in the hospital for an extended period of time. I don’t want to of course, but those damned morals force me to.

My buddy Ken is visiting his daughter and grandkids in Saskatchewan for a week and a half. I foolishly gave him my word that I would keep an eye on his place and keep the sidewalks clean of snow and ice. I made that promise when I didn’t think it was going to snow. So far, it’s snowed three times!! I’m thrilled he doesn’t have livestock that need looking after. I don’t mind making promises if I never have to keep them. I guess in some ways I am like an old time banker, railroad man or one of those greedy white men I mentioned earlier.

If I were, I could treat Ken like he was an Indian, rancher or widow that had a signed deal on paper. Then I wouldn’t have a problem letting the sun take care of the snow.

I was born a century too late…

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