Becky’s Summer Job
My girls all had jobs at an early age, usually before they could drive. They worked their way through college, saved money for a church mission and bought cars with the money they earned. All three had some unusual jobs, but Becky’s summer job with the Department of Agriculture had them all beat.
A friend who worked in the Agricultural Department mentioned there were outdoor summer job openings he needed to fill, and asked if Becky would be interested. I said I would ask, not sure if she would like it, not being a typical outdoorsy girl, more familiar with greens on a golf course than with the green of corn fields and hay ground. She came home after her job interview, excited about her summer. I asked her what her job would be. “Counting grasshoppers”, she said. OK…. Her typical day would be going to assigned fields and pastures, armed with a butterfly net, take an exact number of strides into the field while waving the net back and forth, catching the grasshoppers that flew out of the grass. She then would close the net, sit down with paper, pen and ruler, count and measure each insect in her net, and record the day’s “catch” in a logbook. Her area was farm and pasture ground around Eagle Butte and points east, some weeks staying several nights in the nearest motel before completing her assigned route. After she had completed one full swing, she would do it all over again, same fields, same process, logging in the numbers and size of the hoppers several times throughout the summer. She took to the job like a duck to water. We looked forward to her returning home because she always had a story to tell, and it was always entertaining.
She was told to go to the fields mapped out for her, talk to the landowner if she could, but whether she contacts the owner or not, “net” the field. The first time a landowner saw her in his hayfield, she was sure she was in trouble, only to be have the rancher visit with her about her job before waving and driving away. She soon discovered she was not the first person to be seen out in rancher’s fields with a butterfly net. The one scary occurrence she experienced was seeing what she thought was a pair of legs sticking out from behind a big round hay bale. She counted her hoppers, keeping an eye on the bale, wondering if there was someone sleeping or hurt, or possibly dead, laying behind it. She was too scared to check it out herself, so after she left she flagged down a passing pickup and told the driver what she had seen. She never did find out if there was a person behind the bale.
One evening after picking up her fast food supper, Becky checked into a motel in Eagle Butte and went to her second floor room to unpack and eat. She realized she had left something in her car and started back to retrieve it. She turned the deadbolt to unlock the door, but the bolt didn’t move. She tried and retried it several times before calling the desk. The clerk said he would bring a knife up and slide it under the door to help her slide the bolt in the crack between the door and the door frame. She was expecting a kitchen knife, so you can imagine her shock when a huge hunting knife came under the door. She tried sliding the bolt with the tip of the knife, but to no avail. The clerk said he would figure something out, so Becky sat down to eat her sandwich. A few minutes later she heard a noise outside her window. She looked out to see a fire truck moving into position to perform a ladder rescue! The thought of climbing out the window spurred her into action, and she attacked the door with the hunting knife with renewed vigor, finally getting the bolt to slide. The news of her predicament spread quickly, and everyone around
town knew she was the girl with the big hunting knife. She was teased the rest of the summer about that.
Becky had a new story every time she came home, including one about almost losing a $4000 piece of equipment while out in a muddy field. She is a great storyteller, a natural. She should write a book of all her hilarious adventures, one being the summer she counted grasshoppers and used a hunting knife as a door key.
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