With my territory expanded because of the job changes, my lunches are now in unfamiliar cafés. Selections are made now, not based on known culinary practices, but rather on the mix of vehicles parked outside. I look for the local café with the most pickups that are equipped with cattle feeders and bale spears. I figure that if the food isn’t any good at least I can pick up a few names of local producers.
When walking into one of these places, I am often reminded of the old western movies of a gunslinger walking through the bat-wing door of the town saloon. All eyes turn to see who the stranger is. So I play the part as best I can.
Just inside the door I will stop, a stolid look on my face, survey each table and meet the eye contact of any who look my way. And the longer you stand there, the more that will turn and look. This little technique is used to establish the aura of “confidence” or “self-assurance”.
As you survey the room, you look for the table that is surrounded by the most hats, chaps and muddy boots. (It’s even better if they have a pair of wire pliers hanging off their belt.) If possible, you sit at that table or at least in close proximity so you can eaves-drop on the names and conversations. This technique has worked well for me to quickly establish relationships in a new area.
Yesterday, while in a new area of the Flinthills, I found one of them little outback cafes surrounded by 20 or more pickups fully equipped. I thought I had found the mother lode! When I walked in, the room was packed with people wearing the correct garb. And there was one chair left in the middle of the pack.
With all the John Wayne confidence I could muster, I played the part and strolled to that open chair. Conversations resumed and I cocked my ear to “infiltrate” the area locals.
Conversations seemed pretty normal at first, cattle prices, calving difficulties, pickup problems and other brags or disclaimers. Then the guy that was sitting a little to my right speaks out in a voice that demanded listening to, “Hey Jim, when does season open?”
Jim answered, “I think it opens next week, April 1st.”
I’m sitting there wondering what kind of season would open at this time of year, when a guy across the table speaks out. “Have you seen that one Frank got last year? He had it stuffed and sitting in his living room now. It’s over 6 feet tall!”
“Yeah, I seen it when he was skinning it” another chimed in. “And it must have weighed over 250 lbs.!”
Well my curiosity is about the overcome me. I am thinking of deer, elk, bear or maybe cougar. Finally, I can no longer hold back and ask, “What season are you talking about?”
The guy sitting across the table from me, looks right at me, and answers, “Feed salesman season? Have you ever seen one?”