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It’s the Pitts: What’s in Your Pocket

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

You can tell a lot about people by what’s in their pockets. You might find a horseshoe nail in a farrier’s pocket, a pipe that doesn’t smell like tobacco in a doper’s, a duck call in a hunter’s vest, throwing rocks in a juvenile delinquent’s pocket and an assortment of buckles, snaps and latigo in the apron pocket of a saddlemaker. 

The back-pocket-wallet of a Hell’s Angel will be hooked with a chain, but it’s the plethora of unmarked $100 bills in the pockets of a congressman that ought to be more securely tied down. Easy come, easy go.

When I was flying all over the country, my favorite way to pass the time was to sit next to the X-ray machine where TSA employees asked flyers to empty their pockets. In small town airports like Redding and Redmond, I took a seat on the other side of a glass wall and observed.

It was like looking through people’s trash, only legal.

It would make a great TV show. 

Host Samuel L. Jackson would ask contestants, “What’s in your pockets?” 

And then a celebrity panel would guess what they did for a living.

Ranchers were always easy to identify by the alfalfa leaves and stems falling out of their pockets onto the conveyor belt. 

In the front pocket of their long-sleeved shirt, you’d find a file of auction market cards chronicling their livestock purchases dating back 17 years. There’d also be a pencil stub, tally book, reading glasses in a soft case, scraps of paper, a toothpick, a four-year-old speeding ticket, Maalox or Tums, a blue scour bolus and nary a sign of coin or cash. 

All of their liquid assets were tied up in cows. Surprisingly, I rarely saw a rancher pull out a comb – probably because most ranchers, if they had any experience at all, had lost most of their hair.

It was easy to tell the ranchers from the cowboys because of what was NOT in the cowboy’s pockets.

There’d be no keys because you don’t need a key to start a horse, they rarely own a home and cowboys don’t usually need a key to access their gold, cash or will in their safe deposit box because they don’t have any of those things. 

The only thing they owned that would set off the alarms would be a can of Copenhagen, a pair of wire cutters on their belt and a trophy buckle they won at a ranch rodeo for cow mugging.

You’d also find a thick stack of lottery tickets, which is the only way a cowboy is gonna get rich and buy his own spread.

I was always amazed at what people no longer carried. 

As a teenager, I always had at least two necessities in the pockets of my jeans – a pocket watch with my name engraved on the back and a three-bladed Case knife, both of which were rights of passage when I was young. 

When the day came you bought your first knife, you became a man. Nowadays, if you flash either of those things in an airport, you’ll be body slammed to the ground by security cops and arrested for being a terrorist. 

They’d think your knife was a weapon and your pocket watch was some sort of timing device, which it really was.

Fewer and fewer people carry or wear watches these days because they get the time – and everything else – from their smartphones.

If you observe a modern young person, you’ll see they have more pockets than ever, and their backpacks runneth over. In many respects they are like turtles in that they carry everything they own with them. 

Besides watches and knives, another product category which must have taken a beating with the rise of smartphones is Cross pens. They used to be handed out by corporations to good customers or employees marking 30 years of service. Many a graduate was honored to receive a Cross matching gold-filled pen and pencil set. 

Not any more though, as cell phones, iPads and laptops have rendered pens, pencils and notepads redundant pieces of ancient technology. Although, I’d like to see the technology buffs try to cut a steak at a bull sale barbecue with their smartphone or castrate a bull calf with an iPad.

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