“Don’t think Duke woulda’ done it thataway”
The other day I was in the trading post working on the latest edition of Tied to the Post when one of our long-term customers came strolling into the shop.
It was a blistering August afternoon, and the refrigeration units were blowing like a hurricane. Despite the cyclone of cold air, the Kokopelli Doors were flung wide open.
“Cooler on, air exiting the building? Wastin’ energy. Contributing to Global Warming,” the customer said.
“Yup,” I replied. “People don’t venture in when the doors are closed. So, the air goes out, but the visitors come in.
“That’s the tradeoff. No pun intended. No guests, no business. No business, doors close . . . permanently.
“Priscilla is outta work. Worse than Global Warming.”
“Oh,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “I don’t think Duke would have done it that way.”
The comment reminded me of the old Waylon Jennings song, “I Don’t Think Hank Done It This Way.”
My over-middle-aged guest was clad in a cowboy hat with fake sweat, fashionably torn blue jeans and artificially scuffed boots, so the reference to Waylon was likely intentional.
In any case, he continued his journey around the shop, inspecting every inch and pointing out several other things he was sure Duke wouldn’t like.
Referencing the old Conway Twitty song, I said, “‘That’s my job’ to ensure it doesn’t get done that a way.”
I’m not sure he made the connection. He did, however, seem to understand that Duke had his way and I have mine, something Duke appreciated and cultivated.
Duke didn’t necessarily mind independent thinkers, unless it got in the way of the deal; then he minded a lot.
The “Duke” my visitor referred to is, of course, my dad, William Woodrow “Duke” Simpson.
It was Duke’s goal to establish Twin Rocks and, as it turned out, my job to realize his dream.
Duke spent many happy years here. About three years ago, however, Duke left to manage the great trading post in the sky, making his last earthly trade at that point.
His memory, however, lives on at Twin Rocks and in the minds of our customers.
Frequently those same customers can’t help comparing Duke’s operational style to mine, and they don’t mind letting me know their opinions on that particular issue.
Sometimes they approve; often they don’t.
What they misunderstand, however, is that Duke and I agreed on most things, and when we didn’t, we disagreed amicably, a lesson too many people either failed to learn or have forgotten.
Duke lived for the deal and would travel miles and stay up all day and late into the night to seal the transaction.
In fact, he always maintained he was working even when he was sleeping.
His greatest moments involved closing the sale. Duke was an “Old Time Trader,” which meant that if there was a buck to be made, or even half a buck, he was all in.
Accounts receivable and financial reports meant nothing to him. Income statement? Forget about it. Balance sheet? Who needs it! Cash flow? Nonsense.
Duke’s measure of success was in his back pocket. If his wallet was stuffed with Ben Franklins, life was good.
If not? Well, according to Duke, he was never under water, and Momma Rose fiercely backs up the claim.
For Duke, cash was king. For me, Elvis is the king.
As my guest continued his tour, I reminded him that the trading post is like a river, never the same from day-to-day, always moving, always changing, fluid.
I told him that if he comes here looking for the same, he will surely be disappointed. “In fact,” I said, “we take great pride in our ever-evolving business model.”
Using my best country bumpkin accent, I told him we have a saying at Twin Rocks that goes something like, “If you ain’t progressin’, you’re regressin.”
I went on to say that we are always reaching for the future, never standing still, never looking in the rearview mirror.
“Speaking of that,” he said, “my girlfriend’s birthday is tomorrow.” Seeing a pair of earrings he thought she might enjoy, he said, “I’ll give you half price for those.”
Channeling my best Waylon Jennings, I said, “No thanks, I don’t think Duke woulda’ done it thataway. No, I don’t think Duke woulda’ done it thataway. Take it home boys.”