Semi Incommunicado

My Generation

You can get mountains of work done while hauling grain, but a conversation with another farm wife? A little more tricky.

Published on: September 20, 2010

I spent a few days last week driving a semi, hauling grain from the field back to our bins and by Day Three, I discovered I could get quite a bit of work done in between the actual driving and dumping.

By Friday, I'd wiped out the mending pile, gotten fairly well along into a flower-pin craft project, read the entire September issue of my mother-in-law's Good Housekeeping, and made a dent in the latest reporter memoir I've been reading. And, I discovered my cell phone was my lifeline to a less boring existence in the truck cab! I finally returned a whole list of calls I'd needed to make. And I managed to confuse our church secretary over where my father-in-law put last week's offering, an escapade that involved my simultaneous use of both cell phone and FM and ended in a total waste of her time. But we had a good laugh about it, so that's really what counts.

Friday's highlight was a conversation with Kendra Smiley, who is first and foremost, a wonderful Christian author and a hilarious speaker whose book on strong-willed children changed the way we relate to our own oldest child, but she's also a columnist for Prairie, along with her husband, John. In a word, they rock. Actually, that's two words. But whatever.

Anyway. I called her Friday, left a message and she called me back on her own cell phone, from her own seat in the tractor! We thought this was particularly hilarious, both of us hauling in grain. Especially since Kendra is a self-professed not-good-at-this-farm-stuff wife. She was filling in for her 90-year-old father-in-law at that moment, who was taking a mid-day break to check markets and take a nap. I suspect she's far more proficient than what she claims. But when I asked her how the yields were on her side of the state, she laughed heartily and said her husband had told her she shouldn't try to bluff her way through farm stuff.

"So you're not supposed to talk above your pay grade, huh?" I joked.

"That's right!" she said. "And I work for FREE!!"

Totally.

So we went on to have a nice conversation, mostly about a potential marriage seminar at our church, but it was peppered with plenty of "hold on, I need to pull up now," and "wait a sec, let me turn down the FM," and eventually, my semi was full and because I can't drive and hold the phone at the same time, we had to go. (This reminds me of a conversation I had with Ray Defenbaugh last fall, who ended the call by saying, "Tell everybody to watch out – there's a one-armed man driving a semi and talking on a cell phone!" I'm still trying to picture that.)

But this was fun. Two farm wives on a glorious fall day, on opposite sides of the state, connected by cell phone and shared experience, a conversation ended when neither of them could multi-task their way any further. And let me just say, we're all a little safer for that.