We were loading our equipment into the car while Bull and Bobby were sitting outside a convenience store in Mounds. Bobby needed a smoke.
“Aw…here we go…” Bull acted put out while at the same time positioning himself to tell the short version of a story he clearly treasured. “I used to be in the service, and while I was stationed in Germany we’d sometimes leave the base and ride in the European rodeos. Well, I always did pretty good but one time I won the whole thing.”
“What do you mean, ‘The WHOLE thing?'”
“I earned the title of European Rodeo Champion…the WHOLE thing. And that’s when the boys started calling me Bull.”
I glanced at Bobby who was almost halfway through this first cigarette. We made eye contact and he slightly nodded his head as if to say, “Yup. It’s the truth.” I looked back at Bull. He looked down at the ground, for a minute, then re-engaged Bobby in their lighthearted joke-talk.
“So,” I thought to myself, “Inside they’re camera shy and do everything they can to stay out out of the conversation. But out here, the bench is their turf, and I’m looking at a bona fide rodeo champ.”
Rachel and I waved goodbye and we headed back to Jenks. But on the way home, we started processing again. The people we meet on our trips get in our head, and we sort out their stories as we drive.
We talked about Shelby Husman, the 21 year-old employee at that convenience store who was completely open to chatting with us. Between her jocularity and easy demeanor we learned her father had been disabled by a tire that exploded. The concussive impact was so bad he had to relearn how to walk. Her mother “works all the time,” her brother was preparing for his high school graduation, and she was basically the primary caregiver for three nieces and a nephew.
She was also very loyal. When asked about how it was the children were living with her, she artfully dodged the question and offered that “she was a good sister.” Yeah, she is. She was a good…lot of things.
She banters with Bull and Bobby on a daily basis, knows when to cut off drunk customers from purchasing alcohol, the local police watch after her and the store, and she seems to know the usual purchases of all her regulars.
I hope the guy who hired her knows just how cool his employee is. We were certainly impressed.
Shelby Husman, you GO girl…
[kelly] & Rachel J. Apple