With the possibility of snow accumulation in the forecast this week, I am reminded of a childhood event that always brings a smile every time I see the fluffy white flakes falling from the sky. I have three brothers, but Wes is my closest sibling. I spent the better part of my youth trying to impress him and be his mini-me, and on more than one occasion, it got me in a heap of trouble.
When Wes was 16 and I was 6, we started a firewood cutting business. Wes did it for the money, and I did it just to try to impress him. I would work all day long for a Yahoo and a candy bar, but after a few weeks I realized that people actually got paid to work. I set up a meeting with a local lawyer and we came up with a contract so I would no longer get cheated out of my labor. I presented the contract to Wes and it read: The employee to which this document represents will get $5 to load the truck and an additional $5 to unload the truck. The employee is also entitled to any and all tips in their entirety. Wes agreed to sign the contract but added the clause, “The employee must sit on the back of the truck with the wood until it is sold.”
You see, we parked our truck on a vacant lot on Main Street and customers would drive in and talk to us. Back then I was cute, so I didn’t have any trouble selling. We both signed the contract and everything worked great, at least for a month or so.
It was February, and the digital sign across the street at Erin Bank and Trust read 4 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a soul in town, so I climbed down off the woodpile and went in the truck cab where Wes had the heat blasting.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Wes asked.
“I got to warm up,” I replied.
“Oh no, you signed a contract. The day you find a replacement is the day you get to sit in the cab.”
I knew he was right, so I mournfully went back outside. It had snowed about 3 inches the night before, and when I slipped and fell on the white powder, I instantly had an idea. I began rolling three snowballs together and eventually had a snowman right beside my woodpile. I cut a limb off a nearby maple tree and ran it through my sign and into the snowman’s gut. I took a step back and smiled. The snowman was holding my sign that read, “Firewood 4 Sale.”
I slammed the truck door and found Wes asleep.
“What did I tell you?” he said.
“Wes, I’ve found a replacement.”
He stepped out and saw my creation and just laughed.
“I’ve been outsmarted by a 6-year-old. We need to make it look right though,” Wes said.
He took my snowman and made a snow sculpture that looked like Cornell Sanders from KFC. We made the local paper and sold the wood in no time. The next morning we went to church, which was directly adjacent to the lot we were sitting on the previous day. Mrs. Hattie Sue Spencer came up to us and furiously asked, “Are you the ones responsible for that snowman?”
“Yes, man we are!” I replied with excitement.
“You should be ashamed of yourselves,” she scoffed as she walked off.
After the service, we went over to check our snowman and tried to figure out the reason for Ms. Spencer’s disapproval. Upon arrival, we found that in the night, someone had strategically placed a 12 inch extension below Cornell Sander’s belt that was saluting the whole town.