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Irons in the fire: A half-truth’s still a lie

Paul Marchant for Progressive Forage Published on 31 August 2020

I backed under the gooseneck of the trailer and jumped out of the cab to crank the jack up. I plugged the lights in, even though I knew there were clearance lights only on the left side and the right blinker didn’t work.

I was in kind of a hurry but, for once, I was actually ahead of schedule. I needed to load a couple of wayward heifers and haul them back up to the mouth of Summit Creek, a little job that shouldn’t take more than half-an-hour. The plan was to then head on down to Brigham City to pick up the mare I’d hauled down there to be bred two weeks earlier. I figured I could make the round trip and be back home by about 2:30. That should leave enough time and daylight to actually get something done that day.

Broken turck

But, true to form, Hector the patron saint of “wore-out” trucks was sleeping on the job. When I hopped back in the pickup and tried to shift into drive, I felt a snap in the steering column and the truck remained in park. At the same time, the band around the mechanism meant to control my genteel nature momentarily snapped as well. After a profane syllable or three, uttered in my not-for-inside voice, I reeled my emotions back in and hollered up at the house for my son, who was home for a couple days, to come to my assistance.

If we want to take the glass-half-full approach, I was lucky. I’d done this drill before, so I knew how to unhook the shift cable from the lever on the transmission so I could get the truck in gear so I could drive it to town where the trained professionals at Don’s Repair could, for a nominal fee of course, replace the broken tube in the steering column. But the fact remained, my perfectly planned day was shot to … well …

As I was driving to town, about half-mad at the world, the following stanza from a country song by Cam came blasting into my consciousness through the speakers of my truck, even though the volume was turned only halfway up:

A half-truth’s still a lie
“I need my space” is still goodbye
A wrong-size shoe could look good on you
But you’ll be cussin’ your feet at midnight
A half-cold beer ain’t cold
“I’ll be back soon” is still gone
A half-smoked cigarette’s still smoked
And a half-broke heart’s still broke

“This,” I thought half-out-loud to myself, “is karma at her best.”

Now, I’m not much of a smoker, but I did take a puff from a Marlboro my neighbor swiped from her dad when I was about 10, so maybe I could relate to this song. I’ve dealt with a half-broke horse or two. The old white Ford was a lot like the half-broke guy behind the wheel. The truck was running. It was driveable. But it most certainly was not at its best. Chasing that line of thinking too far could drive you more than just half-loony, but I think it’s a point worth a minute or two of contemplation.

Half-hearted, half-baked, half … well, you get the idea. I’ve probably spent half my life hovering around that realm. Honestly, I’d dare say it’s impossible to do everything full-on, full-time. But I also believe there’s not really a good excuse to give anything other than your best effort in any honorable pursuit, whether it’s a doctorate at Oxford or stretching the bottom wire on the backside of the back forty – even, or especially if, you’re the only one who really knows where the threshold of your “best effort” is.

The facet of this whole “half” conversation that really makes my head spin comes from the back side, though. You know, the “a half-truth’s still a lie” thing. I’m afraid it’s too easy to dismiss the careless nonsense we may half-heartedly proliferate as harmless, when in fact we may very well be doing $10 worth of damage with something like a 15-cent knot-headed remark. Any thought you think and any word you say is like a rock chucked into the Grand Canyon. It won’t stop halfway to the bottom. It’ll eventually hit something.

I’ll try to work on that from now on. I think I heard somewhere that recognition is half the battle, so I guess I’m halfway to somewhere.  end mark

Getty Images.

Paul Marchant is a cowboy and part-time freelance writer based in southern Idaho. Follow him on Twitter or email Paul Marchant.

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