A rattly truck squeaked to a stop in front of the feedstore in a certain small town. The driver heard the ruckus inside before he even got to the steps and opened the door to the shop. Townsfolk were hollerin' – real mean like – at someone. The crowd was big and angry. A small figure was taking the brunt of their anger. She was defiant but there was no mistaking the tears behind her eyes.
Just behind the driver a short, unkempt woman with a dirty shirt, a bad pony tail, and muddy workboots walked thru the door.
“Hey there, OFG!” Said the man from the truck. When he smiled his eyes twinkled like the morning stars. When he hugged her hello it was like green fields and blue skies. She felt like the sun was shining just for her.
“Shep!” She cried, “I'm so glad to see you!” He was like an older brother she always wanted. He was comforting and kind and always gave her good advice.
They called him Ol' Shep on account of how he was a good shepherd – he was the best and that was the truth of it. But he wasn't particularly old, of course. He was tall and broad and strong. Ol' Shep looked like he'd been roughly used by the weather and he was well scarred by his work. He always carried his shepherds hook. He had never been known to stop looking for a lost sheep until he found it. Everyone who knew him loved him. He didn't always say much but when he did – it mattered.
OFG noticed the crowd and their anger and the woman who was gettin' the worst of it. She gestured with her head toward the goin's on, “What's that about, Shep?” OFG asked.
“Well,” He said, “You know how folks are... that woman... she's made some mistakes.”
“That's terrible. Does she really deserve all that hollerin'? I mean, what could she have done?” OFG was looking at the crowd. The woman was on the ground now and someone had kicked her. She pulled herself into a ball trying to protect herself. OFG wondered how far this was going to go. She gave Shep a worried look. Shep nodded his head faintly, concern on his face also.
OFG then recognized the woman. She had seen her around...and yeah. That woman had made some mistakes. Farming mistakes. Business mistakes. There had been losses. Some of it was just bad luck. It could have happened to anyone.
“Someone should do something, Shep.” Said OFG.
“Yep. Someone should.” Shep was looking right at her.
“Oh no...no.. no.. not me.” Shep was still looking at OFG with those morning star eyes. “That gal doesn't even know me, Shep. That is not my fight. She's doing just fine on her own. She'll figure it out.”
Just then a tear welled up in the woman's eye... the crowd started to laugh and mock her. The woman tried to get to her feet under her but someone pushed her roughly aside and she fell. “Serves you right!” Someone from the crowd yelled.
Ol' Shep put his hand on OFG's shoulder and pushed her forward. “I got you, don't you worry.” He said.
OFG surveyed the crowd. They were all there.... Hypocrite Harry, Do Nothing Dorothy, Loud Mouth Lucy, Mean Spirited Margie, Self Righteous Steve, Flaw Finder Fred, the one they called Mocking Jay, and all the rest. Malcontents. Trouble makers. Meddlers. Criticizers.
OFG squared her shoulders, Ol' Shep's hand was still on her back. “Hey!” She called to the crowd.
Some of them turned to her. “Oh good. You're here, OFG! Look! Just look what we got here. This one...” Said their ringleader, Mean Spirited Margie, as she shoved the woman down again. Mocking Jay laughed loudly.
“What are you doing to her? Why don't you just leave her alone! Do you really have time to come here and make fun of this woman?” Asked OFG. “Ain't you got chores or something farm related you should be doin', Margie?”
“Oh no! I got nothin' to do all day but call out all this gal's problems. She made mistakes and she got too big for her britches and we are gonna put her in her place.”
“That's right,” Said Flaw Finder Fred, “Too big for her britches! Unlike us decent folks who ain't got the pride on them – like her.”
Flaw Finder Fred kicked at the woman with his dirty boot. “Ain't no one likes anybody who's got the pride on them. Take me for instance, all's I got is humility. Tip top number one humility that is me.” He pointed to himself proudly.
“Is that right?” Asked OFG wonderin' where all that humility went to if you used yourself as the plumb line for the judgment of others.
“And she is trying to make money off her farm!” Called Hypocrite Harry. “Can you believe it! She's trying to earn a living from her farm. And sellin' things! Yes she is! Sellin' things.” He practically hissed.
“How's that farm market doin' you for, Harry? You makin' money on it. On your farm?” Said OFG giving Harry a hard look.
“Well. Now that's different.” Said Harry.
“Really.” Answered OFG still lookin' at the hypocrite standing in front of her.
Loud Mouth Lucy pushed forward from the crowd. “You don't get it, OFG, that woman – some of her chickens died. Died! It was horrible. Just horrible. Whoever heard of chickens dyin' on a farm! And she raised her pigs in the mud! The MUD!” Lucy got a fan out of her oversized purse and started fanning herself like she had the vapors.
This was all getting to be to much for OFG.
“Which one of you had livestock losses last year? Or I should ask, who didn't?” OFG called to the crowd, “You? Fred? Didn't you lose a whole clutch of chicks? Lucy, didn't your ducks all get killed by coyotes? Steve, I believe it was you who lost 3 baby goats to the cold, wasn't it?” OFG looked each of them in the eye.
Now came Do Nothing Dorothy. “OFG everybody knows that livestock shouldn't die! You haven't had any losses, now have you, dear?”
“Where did you get such a ridiculous notion, Dorothy? Of course I've had losses. Do you... wait...do you even farm? I thought you lived in town.” Said OFG.
“Well I read it on the Wiki, for heavens sakes!”, Said Dorothy, “I don't actually have to farm to know about it. Any fool could see...” But then Dorothy's voice kinda trailed off then she heard what she was saying out loud. “Well... I mean...” Flustered, Dorothy muttered something and headed out the door. She slammed it with a huff.
Some others in the crowd had started to drift off also.
The complainers, the agitators, the pointers, the mockers, the fault finders, the hangers on, the former friends, and the worst - the folks who just wanted to feel important by putting someone else down. OFG was disgusted by the lot of them.
“But she deserves it!” Said Ranting Randy. “... why, there was someone who knew someone who saw a guy a the Gas n Sip who said their cousin was ripped off by that woman.”
“Then I'm sure there is a better way to handle it then a bunch of you goofs all getting together to nit and pick every little...and big... mistake that someone has made. If you don't like what she sells then don't buy it. If you don't want to hear what she has to say then don't read it. But why would you all get together every other day and hash and rehash it all?” Said OFG wondering if any of them had any sense at all.
“How about you, Schadenfreude Shelly, do you really feel better by mocking someone who may lose their livelihood? You really don't have anything better to say or do?” Said OFG incredulously. She was getting mad now and put her hands on her hips.
“Well she's POOR!” Spat Point It Out Paul. “She ain't got no money and talks about it.”
“Yes,” Said OFG nodding her head, “Because I never heard of anyone having hard times during the worst financial stretch in several generations. Yep. I'm positive she is the only one with money troubles. If I had a dollar for everyone who made a bad financial decision in the last couple years … well, then I wouldn't have any money problems either.”
“Oh hell's bells.” Said Paul as he slapped his leg with his dirty hat and stomped out toward the door.
“Look,” Said OFG to the rest of the crowd, “I'm not saying that mistakes weren't made. I'm not defending everything this woman has done – I don't even know her. But what I do know is that you probably don't have the full story. All's you are is a bunch of strangers on the internet. And you have to know that what you are doing is senseless. And mean. How would you like every mistake you've ever made scrawled all over the interweb? What if every loss, every incorrectly spoken word, or every hard lesson learned was used against you? Is this really how you would want to be treated?”
The crowd started muttering and backing away from the woman. Pretty soon the crowd had broken up and it was OFG and the woman in the feedstore. “You want a ride home, honey?” Asked OFG.
The woman just shook her head, got up from the floor, and hurried out the door.
OFG turned to see Ol' Shep still standing there. He was smiling at her as he handed a flier he pulled from the bulletin board. It was about an anti-bullying program starting over at the local high school.
“I think some of the grown ups around here need this more than that kids, Shep. Maybe we should start a new program for adults?”
Shep just kinda laughed and looked down at his boots and then back up to OFG. “Well, OFG, that program has been around for a while but I suspect folks have just forgotten that you should treat others the way you'd want to be treated.”
“Ah yes. I think I remember that one. We should all keep that in mind, huh? I get that....But why are they so mean?” Said OFG.
“You see, OFG, everyone wants grace. But no one wants to give it. If you are the one who's had a run of bad luck or had a hard loss or said something stupid... well. Then you'd want folks to overlook it and move on. But them folks... well. All they want to do is put other people down. If you were to hang out their laundry you'd see their mistakes too. See their losses and all the dumb things they have said or done. It's a hard thing. But you can bet that if they were the one getting kicked around all they would want is someone to step up for them. ” He smiled at her.
“You done good, OFG.” Said Shep “You done real good. Now come here. ” He hugged her goodbye and promised to come round her place. “You keep your head on straight, now.” He called as he walked out to his rattly old truck, put his shepherds hook in the back, and climbed into the drivers seat.
“You think that did any good, Father?” Said Shep to the older one in the passenger seat.
“We'll see, Son, sometimes it just takes one person to make a difference. You know that.” Said the Father. “But you keep your eye on that OFG just in case the crowd turns ugly on her.”
“Oh. I'm not worried about her. She's good and tough.” Ol' Shep smiled and they pulled onto the road and drove away thru sunshine, blue skies, and green fields.
For those of you who don't know what this is about just go on about your day. I'm not giving it any more airplay. Do not read any further. Have a great weekend.
For those of you who do know what this is about and came over here expecting me to jump in with you in making fun of someone who has made mistakes or has hard times.... well then. You have come to the wrong place. We don't do that here. We don't ridicule or belittle or make fun of people who may or may not deserve the kind of stuff you are dishing out. If that is you then shame on you. Get your kit together and get off my blog, get off my facebook, and do not comment here. And if I may quote the great bard, Taylor Swift.... "All you are is mean."
You wanna have something to say about me in your mean farm girls club because I don't have time for your foolishness? Do it. I ain't about to bawl because of what you might say about me. I will mock you privately to my real friends - then delete, block, and unfriend you and I will never think about you again.
Smell ya, later, haters. Go on and get out of here. And that is all that I got to say about that.