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IT'S THE PITTS -- PICKY, PICKY

by: Lee Pitts

One of the traits of cattle buyers that I admire is that they are very picky. It also happens to be one of their least admirable traits. When ordering a shared bottle of wine you don't mind them being so finicky but if they're trying to buy your cattle in the country there is no pleasing them. If your cattle are red they'll want black, if they're black they'll want red and if yours are heavy they'll want light. Whatever you have they won't want and yet, given the opportunity, they'll bid competitively for the same cattle at an auction. They can spot a bad eye, limp, rat tail, scur or any other excuse to dock your cattle in a dust storm at 100 yards. If your cattle are not up to their high standards, and they never are, they'll penalize you, but if they are exactly what they're looking for (a phenomenon I've never witnessed) then you won't have enough of them.

Cattle buyers are some of the smartest people in our business. Their job requires a trained and critical eye and they must think fast on their feet. Having said that I must say that they can be more stubborn than a mule, more pessimistic than a camp cook and as sociable as an ulcerated tooth. Because their job requires them to turn a critical eye to all they see some of them can be a bit judgmental. If you haven't got anything nice to say... you too could be a cattle buyer.

I have spent a good part of my adult life around cattle buyers and I admire them greatly BUT they sure can be a pain there. For example, take one of my best friends. Better yet, take him out to breakfast and you'll see what I mean. He orders the exact same thing every time and in the same exact manner and I'm not talking about a waffle or flapjacks. No, it's... “I'll have dry whole wheat toast and I want it cut into triangles, not rectangles. I want half a grapefruit, preferably pink, not too large or too small. I'd like a large bowl of semi-warm, not hot, oatmeal without milk or raisins but strawberries would be nice. But only if they are fresh. No sugar, cinnamon or anything artificial. I'll have one cup of coffee with the pink packet of sweetener, not the blue.”

I swear it goes on like this until it's time to order lunch.

Cattle buyers are usually impeccable dressers, know the best restaurants and always have an opinion on last night's ball game or some sleazeball politician's speech. They may even have a thought or two about a book or a movie. If they ever find something they like they'll stay with it forever. I know one cattle buyer who stays in the same motels every week, in the exact same rooms! If one of “his” rooms were to be unavailable I think he'd have a nervous breakdown. This is the same fellow who one time blew a gasket because his wife did not pack his suitcase exactly right. I believe the shorts were on top of the socks, if you can believe the sheer horror of that! Eventually she had all she could stand and packed his suitcase one last time.

I forgive all these traits in my friends because it's their job to be discriminating. But it's just a few short steps from critical to hypocritical, as men often are when it comes to the opposite sex. Males can be so discriminating when it comes to wrinkles in their sheets or too much salt on their steak but when it comes to women they often lower their lofty standards, as the following true story illustrates.

One cattle buyer had an eye for cattle that was legendary but when it came to women he turned as blind as a posthole. One evening a gaggle of ladies was bellied up to the bar, having themselves a large time, when our cattle buyer asked, “You ladies are sure enjoying yourselves. What's all the celebration about?”

“We're celebrating my acquittal,” replied the honoree.

“Oh yeah, what did you get acquitted of?” asked the curious cow buyer.

“I was acquitted of murdering my husband,” said the trigger-happy female.

To which the cattle buyer eagerly said, “So, you're single then! Care to dance?”

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