Sunday, February 8, 2009

Degree of Education

Quite number of years ago, one of the young professionals at an agricultural research department was showing a summer college internee around and getting him acquainted with the job and with the people. I heard him tell the student, “And Scottie has his ‘post-hole digger.’”

That one had me stumped for awhile. Then it finally dawned on me that in agricultural college boy lingo, a post-hole digger meant a Ph.D. degree. I couldn’t help but wonder how many other such names they had for various degrees and accomplishments. That looked like a fairly fertile field for growing a new poem, so I began rhyming a few words.

At that time I didn’t know of any publishers looking for rural rhyme so today’s poem never was submitted anywhere, but I kept it in my repertoire for public readings. When working with our company’s sales department, I was frequently asked to “loosen up” sales meetings by adding a little humor with a short poetry reading.

Of all the poems I read to farmer-seed dealers and their wives, this one was the favorite:

A young man drove a farm wagon
Down a dusty country road.
He grinned as one of the steel wheels
Almost nailed a lazy toad.

A well-dressed stranger flagged him down
And he said, “As you can see,
My car has a flat tire. Would you
Please install the spare for me?

“I’d hoped someone would come along.
I’ve been waiting for some while
And I’m afraid that changing tires
Has just never been my style.

”Getting down, the young man tied his
Mules so they’d not stray away.
He said, “This won’t take five minutes,
And I’ll have you on your way.”

The older man admired the young
Man’s ambition and his zeal
As he promptly jacked the car up
And removed the airless wheel.

The older man said,“Young fellow,
You should really be in school
With higher learning, no one would
Look on you as just a fool.

“At City College, with a bit
Of alumni help, one can
Pull himself up by his bootstraps –
Be an educated man.

”“You’re tall, and sound of wind and limb;
Plenty broad across the beam.
I’m sure there would be room for you
On our college football team.

The young man smiled a happy smile,
When he’d finished with the car,
He said, “Sir, you just don’ know how
Far off-base you really are.

“My working skills and fencing tools
Make my future very bright.
I’ve all the work I want to do
Every day from morn’ till night.

“I ain’t got much education,
But can write and I can read.
I’m happy and doing nicely,
With all the degrees I need.

“These Muscled Arms are my M.A.
I make a good living and
This Post-Hole Digger’s my Ph.D.
My work’s always in demand.

“This Blunt Shovel and Broad-Axe are
My B.S. and my B.A.
My M.S. is this Muddy Spade
That I use ‘most every day.

“If a sticky problem stumps me
My dad will consult with me.
Like me, he is a Mule Driver,
So he, too, is an M.D.

“I get exercise and fresh air
Without paying no greens fees.
I face right up to my Maker
When I’m praying on my knees.

“You look down your nose and tell me
To just what I should aspire.
Shucks, at least I’m smart enough to know
How to change this gol-darned tire!”