I hate mornings.
Wait… let’s try that again. I strongly dislike mornings, and my life long relationship with them could be described as contentious, at best. Or so I thought. My first day on the job as the Terra assistant I was led out to arrival and my feelings about mornings quickly began to change.
Growing up on a cattle ranch in the sprawling suburbs of Chugwater, Wyoming (population 212) you learn a few things. How to open a barbed-wire gate without making yourself bleed; the proper technique for pouring range-cake into tire tracks after a snow storm so the cattle are sure to eat their allotted two pounds per critter; every little trick in the book for getting your pick-up truck out of the drift where you just got stuck; applying an iron to a calf for exactly the right amount of time and with exactly the right amount of pressure to make for a visible and viable brand. All useful things to know when you work at a job where your office is a four-wheel drive truck and most of your co-workers are bovines. But one of the best lessons I ever received from my Dad was the art of the proper handshake.
“Make it firm and look ‘em in the eye,” he would say, as we practiced the time-honored greeting of the West. Each time his big paw enveloped my hand in his mighty squeeze and our eyes locked on one another, I felt his love and respect, and it gave me the confidence to go out and face the world. Already in my young life, I have taken Dan Kirkbride’s handshake with me around the world and back, and it has served as a marker for the beginning of countless friendships and unforeseen opportunities.
Everybody should be so lucky to start their day as an AMS assistant does. Greeting 50-plus smiling children with eye contact and a handshake has brought a joy to my life that I didn’t even know could exist before noon. As they arrive with the rising of the sun, feeling their strong young hands and seeing their steady gaze serves as a constant reminder of all that is good and to be hoped for in this world.
Even now, I greet my Dad with a firm handshake and a confident look in the eye before we embrace, and I’m grateful for this small, honest gift he has shared with his son.
I love mornings.