The Last Windrow: In this case, my action didn't spur an expected reaction

Reminiscing ahead of a coming reunion.

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

When a butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazon jungle, it may trigger a typhoon in India.

For every action, there will be an equal reaction.

If a tree falls in the Siberian forest and there is no human around, does it make a sound?

If the shoe fits, wear it.

Don't throw rocks in glass houses.


If your mule falls into the well on Sunday, you have the right to go and pull it out.

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

All the above axioms you've heard most of your life if you lived the life I have. And I've found most of them to be true in some form or the other. Those old sayings have their base in truth.

I've especially grown aware of the phrase, "For every action, there will be an appropriate reaction." I learned that a long time ago on the farm.

I learned that if you push an animal far enough out of its comfort range, your action will generate a reaction that will not be pretty. Most farm animals are bigger than you are and I've seen grown men put on the run by a critter that outweighs them by double. Coaxing is a more desired way of not raising the reaction that is not sought.

My graduating class of 1965 is planning a reunion at the end of this month. I'm on the planning committee and it has been fun to relive some of our memories as we've put things in place. Thinking back to those school days, the "every action" phrase rang true. Those of us who chose to cause an action usually received a "reaction" that was not sought.


Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

I never had stolen a thing in my life until one day during noon hour I and a bunch of my buddies decided to stroll downtown and visit a grocery store there. I'm sure the guy behind the counter became a little nervous to see a bunch of sophomores enter his store.

Before we left, I, on a dare, picked up one jaw breaker and stuck it in my shirt pocket. I didn't feel good as I departed.

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

A call came over the school's speaker just before the end of the day. "Mr. Wetrosky, will you please come to the principal's office." I broke out in a cold sweat. This would be the end of my school career, I was sure. Surely the grocer had turned me in. I knew it had to be true.

I walked into the principal's office and was told to take a chair. He was on the phone and didn't sound like he was having a good conversation. I was sure my fate was sealed.


Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

"Mr. Wetrosky, I have a question for you," he said as he turned his sullen face toward my quaking body. There was no hint of a smile. In an instant that stolen jaw breaker didn't seem like such a good idea. I knew that what I was about to be delivered would not go so good when the news traveled home to my parents. That would mean a fate worse than death itself.

He cleared his throat and then said, "I've been meaning to ask you if you would be interested in helping me shell corn on Saturday. I would pay you and you can have lunch with me and my wife. She's a wonderful cook! My kids are all grown and away and I need some help. I'll pick you up and take you back home if you don't have a car."

What? He wanted me to help him shell corn? At that moment I would have helped him shell corn every day for 10 years. The lump in my throat hardly cleared as I stammered out the words, "Yes! I'll be happy to help you!"

I walked out of that office a free man. There would be no more thefts put on my record. My action had not led to an equal reaction. It was a bright ride home on the bus that afternoon. I often wondered if my principal had actually been contacted by the grocer, but decided to take a different tact?

The adages I listed above I believe are all true. But in this case, my action did not activate a reaction. That day I pulled the mule out of the well. Happy Reunion!

See you next time. Okay?

What To Read Next
Get Local