Carl Mays: You gotta love the good ole boys – and girls

Jun. 19, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

So, in the continuing saga of my 932-mile auto trip from Gatlinburg to Flower Mound, Texas, after I survived the gale-force winds and torrential downpour in West Tennessee between Jackson and Memphis, I made my way into Arkansas, and to my second-day destination in Arkadelphia.

After my stay in Arkadelphia, which was extended from one night to two in order for me to feel better prepared for my final leg of about 350 miles, I departed fairly early for North Texas. On the outskirts of Arkadelphia, I pulled off the interstate and into a convenience store/service station to fill up with gas for the journey ahead. Here, it was great to see that the good ole boys – and girls – were alive and well in Arkansas. I say this because when I pulled up to a gas pump a sign on the pump read, “Cash pay before gas unless we know you.”

Well, they didn’t know me. But that’s okay. I was using a gas card anyway. However, as I was preparing to pump gas, an older man wearing overalls and a farmer’s tan pulled in across from me in his pick-up truck and spoke into the microphone built into the pump. “It’s me,” he said. He then proceeded to fill a couple of gas cans he fetched from the truck bed. Finished with those, he stuck the gas hose into his truck’s tank.

Meanwhile, a young man across the way was having a hard time getting anyone in the store to recognize him and turn on his pump. The older farmer saw this, walked over to the guy’s pump and spoke into the microphone, “It’s okay. I know ‘im. If he don’t pay, I’ll beat it out of ‘im… and collect interest.” The gas was immediately turned on.

As I finished getting gas and was cleaning my windshield, another young man drove up in a truck, one nicer and cleaner than the other two. He crawled out of the cab sporting a black baseball cap with a white duck logo. He was wearing a black tee-shirt that announced in white letters, “Faith, family, ducks.” As he walked toward the pump he gave a quick flick of his wrist and hand toward the store and had instant gas. Apparently they knew him quite well.

When I completed my task at the car I went inside to use the restroom, and to get some coffee and a couple of fruit and grain bars for the road. The total cost at check-out was $2.37. I had some dollar bills and 27 cents in change in my pocket, so I added a third dollar bill to the two I had put on the counter in order to make-up for the dime difference. The woman at the register pushed the dollar back toward me and said, “That’s okay. I gotta’ dime,” and she dropped a dime in the drawer.

As I pulled back onto the interstate, I suddenly thought of fellow speaker, humorist, good friend, all-around good guy, and one of the wittiest people I’ve ever known, the late Senator Bob Murphy from Nacogdoches, Texas. Among my favorite pictures is one of Bob and me in front of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., Bob in his light blue seersucker suit and white cowboy hat, Carl in his navy blazer and gray pants. I thought of him because the farmer at the gas pumps reminded me of Bob. Bob had a white pick-up. White, except for the dark brown stain on the driver’s side door. Bob liked to drive with his window down. And he loved to keep a wad of chewing tobacco in his jaw.

You gotta love the good ole boys – and girls.

© 2014 by Carl Mays, National Speakers Association Hall of Fame member and author of over a dozen books. Email or view