I don’t need Caller ID to know when Skeeter Skates is calling. The phone has a different kind of sound to it, like very impatient. That’s to be expected. Skeeter Skates, owner of Skeeter Skates Plow Repair and Stump Removal in Ryo, Ga., is an impatient man. I guess it goes with the business.
Skeeter isn’t big on preambles. Before I could even say hello, he barked, “Hoss, I need some advice and I don’t have all day to talk about it. I’m looking at a bunch of rusted bolts on a Massey Harris P4086 14-inch plow blade that ain’t going to jump up and fix itself.”
This was certainly a surprise. Skeeter Skates isn’t one to seek advice. I just hoped I was up to the task. “The plow repair and stump removal business is both dynamic and ever-evolving,” Skeeter opined, “and if I want to maintain my position as an industry leader, I must continue to hone my communications skills.” I wasn’t sure where this was going, but I told him that was a reasonable assumption.
“As you know,” Skeeter said, “I ain’t got much use for you newspaper boys, but you must know a little something about communicating. Otherwise, you would have to go get a real job and get some grease under your fingernails.”
I have not been very successful in convincing the man that writing columns isn’t as easy as he seems to think it is. There is a lot of stress in the matter of verb agreements with indefinite pronouns, not to mention trying to figure out where commas go. Skeeter Skates thinks that if you don’t have grease under your fingernails, you don’t have much to contribute to the American way of life.
“Here’s my problem, Hoss,” Skeeter said, “Folks in Ryo keep asking why I ain’t on Face Paint, or whatever you call it and if the president of the whole dang U.S. of A is twerping all the time, how come I ain’t? I don’t understand what they are talking about. I thought maybe you could help me try to figure it out.”
In the first place, I said, it isn’t Face Paint. It is Facebook. Just like knowing the difference in a brush grubber and a steer skid stump grinder, nomenclature is important.
“What does it do?” Skeeter asked. I had to admit that I am probably not the highest and best source on the subject of Facebook. I said as best I can figure, Facebook is a place where you let people know your dog died and they all tell you how sorry they are and then proceed to tell you about their trip to Panama City. And sometimes people who say they are my Facebook friends get upset if I write something they don’t like and say unkind things about me.
“That don’t make a whole lot of sense,” Skeeter replied. “I don’t think you ought to treat your friends like that. Act that way in the plow repair and stump removal business and you ain’t going to be around long.”
He then asked me about twerping. I said I believe he was talking about tweeting. I told Skeeter the trick to tweeting is that you only have 140 characters to say what you want to say.
Skeeter asked if I tweeted. I said not much. He said he could see where tweeting would be hard for me. “Hoss,” he said, “I have read your stuff for a long time and you have trouble making sense in 700 words, forget 140 characters.” It takes a thick skin to deal with Skeeter Skates.
Skeeter wanted to know why the president is always tweeting. I said I didn’t know but that I thought most folks wished he would stop and spend more time trying to unite the country.
Skeeter said with a chuckle, “That ought to get you a bunch of angry twerps.” I think he meant tweets but in this case, he may be more right than wrong.
Skeeter said he had to go. There were plows to be repaired and stumps to be removed. He would think over what I had said, but Face Paint and twerping sounded like a monumental waste of time to him. If his dog died, he said he would call me up and tell me and that he wasn’t interested in hearing about anybody’s trip to Panama City.
With that, he hung up. In many ways, Skeeter Skates is a man ahead of his time.