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It's the Pitts: Men really do need women
It’s the Pitts
By Lee Pitts

I hate to say this but men need women. With test tube pregnancies and a plethora of pets to choose from these days, I’m not so sure the opposite is true.

Look behind the scenes at any successful small business and you’ll find a woman. If you want a question answered correctly, a bill paid or an invoice corrected you need to find out who this lady is. (In my little rinky-dink operation she happens to also be my wife.) You can call her a bookkeeper, office manager or assistant to the president (just don’t call her a secretary) and you’ll find one in every publishing house, construction company and auction market in America.

These are the people who handle the irate customers, deal with the bureaucracy, write the checks, absorb the misdirected anger and hear the temper tantrums. This point was driven home as I attended a benefit auction that a buddy and I were fired from. Actually we didn’t mind because we had been doing it for free. So we kept a stiff upper lip and went anyway because we were curious: What did it take to replace us?

Not much, we discovered. This year’s affair was not held at the fairgrounds but at a fancy four-star resort. It seems that the hotel manager, who spoke with a British accent and walked like an Emperor penguin, was aghast at how we cowboys had conducted last year’s event so he offered his services to put a little “class” in the evening’s festivities.

An auction, when conducted properly, is a beautiful thing to watch. When run by professionals an auction seems so fast and effortless that an outsider might assume there’s nothing to putting one on.

This was how the hotel manager, Mr. Tux-and-Tails, felt because he made himself auctioneer and sale manager for this year’s auction.

The affair was held in the hotel’s Grand Ballroom, which was almost big enough to hold Mr. Tux-and-Tails’ ego. The room was decorated with an Arabian Night theme, the waiters wore cummerbunds, the tables were covered in cloth and there were three forks at every setting. This was good because it gave me something to play with while we waited for our food, which was served way past my bedtime.

Now, you can put your boots in the oven but that don’t make them biscuits and calling yourself an auctioneer doesn’t make it so. Mr. Tux-and-Tails “auctioned” at speeds of two miles per hour with gusts up to five, but by the end he’d failed to save enough of air for breathing. He ran out of air speed and altitude about lot five and then sounded like a tongue-tied two-year-old. In his defense, even if Tux-and-Tails had not been half-snockered on wine he couldn’t have seen anyone bid because in the center of every table was a massive flower arrangement. Birds of Paradise with arms were bidding against Yucca plants all night.

After the long and boring auction we noticed that Tux-and-Tails and members of his staff were gathered behind the podium, engaged in a heated discussion. It seems that Tux-and-Tail’s bow tie had evidently restricted oxygen flow to his brain because in preparation for the sale he had failed to assign anyone the most important job of all: that of clerk. Needless to say, not writing down the buyer’s names and the prices they paid is a fairly large error seeing as how that was the sole purpose of the auction.

Lucky for him my friend’s wife has clerked and managed a cattle auction for 20 years so she is incapable of sitting through an auction without recording who bought what. At our request she let the hotel manager sweat for 45 minutes before walking up to the disheveled prude and saving what face he had left.

So here’s a toast to all the women who run our businesses, do the dirty work and let us take all the glory. Aside from septic-tank pumpers, they are the most under-appreciated people in the world. And if that’s sexist or in any way demeaning to women, well then, please speak to my office manager about it.

This farm news was published in the February 1, 2006 issue of Farm World.