It Is Hard To Break The Work Habit


Having grown up on a dairy farm in Middle Tennessee, I was taught at an early age that work was something a person did as long as they were physically able to do so. Much of our farming required hand labor in those early years of my development, and being born a male child, I received my fair share of that labor. Living on a farm, that is sort of what is expected, and to this day it is still hard for me to consider a day fulfilled unless I’m tired from having worked in some manner. I no longer haul hay, clean out barns, milk cows or do other farming chores, but I still enjoy a good days work.

Over the years, I have spent most of my time working in some manner one way or the other. I have never taken up a hobby or sport as others do. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that; if anything, I may be saying just the opposite. As I now reach the time in my life that work in the coming years may be slowing down, I am wondering what I should do to fill the void that work once held for me when that time comes to hand over the work load to others. I hope to refuse the urge to sit on the front porch and count cars, but instead to still want to chase a few in some way. I just can’t decide exactly what to do as another means to stay busy. I get a lot of advice, but some of it is just not for me.

Several of my friends have told me to take up golf. They turned my neighbor’s cornfields into a golf course recently and all I have to do is step over the fence, but I’m just not too sure about that game. Just last week, I worked a golf tournament as the official photographer and had a chance to watch those fellows play up close. They all had put a lot of money into equipment, bags, shoes, clothes and fees that immediately caught my “tight-wad” attention. I don’t know who designs golf shoes, but they must have a great sense of humor or been made to wear too many Buster Brown shoes as a kid.

You would think that after a person spends over $200 for a golf club it would put the ball anywhere they would want it. Wrong. It just puts the ball further in the woods or makes a larger hole in the ground after you miss the ball. There also seemed to be a lot of displeasure with how they were playing. I guess if you spend that kind of money for the equipment, you would expect a little more perfection. I was told I ask too many questions to play golf. I just wanted to know why some of them hit the ball in the trees instead of out on that little green patch of grass with the racing flag sticking in it.

Plus, why do you have to be so quiet to play golf? You use a metal club with a flat head to swing at a stationary ball lying on the ground. I was told you needed to be quiet because the golfer had to concentrate. I played little league baseball, high school baseball and Dixie Youth league baseball where a kid with limited control threw a rawhide ball at speeds up to 90 miles an hour at your head and you had a round stick to hit it with, along with hundreds of people screaming at you to miss it. Now that took concentration and I would have given anything for a tee to hit from.

I guess golf may not be the game I’m looking for. In fact, I just may be like the recent retiree in a story I was sent recently who was given a set of golf clubs by his friends. Seems the man was somewhat like me and never took time to play much in life, always working for perfection.

Thinking he’d try the game and buying all the clothes, he asked the local pro for lessons, explaining that he knew nothing about the game. The pro showed him the right stance and swing, then said, “Just hit the ball toward the flag on the first green.”

The retiree teed up and hit the ball straight down the fairway and onto the green, where it stopped only inches from the hole. “Now what?” he asked the surprised pro.

 “You’re supposed to hit the ball into the cup,” the pro finally said.

The retiree replied, “NOW you tell me!”

Guess I’ll just work a little longer and maybe something will come along, but I don’t think it will be golf.



– Pettus L. Read is Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at