Can I help you? – Hoping he might ask me about my tractors.
His head turns wondering about my European accent.
He stands in front of me in his small grey shorts, big oily leather hat and his half-length “dry as a bone” coat. Hat, dirty. Boots are too. He always dresses like this, only his warm green socks might experience a rare change. Change is something he does not like, because, for him, it is unnecessary. All his life, every single morning this big Aussie man looks outside of his weatherboard house, drinks his instant coffee, stares out of his window at his thirsty paddock, and walks slowly to his rustic, run down shed. So did his father.
I have never seen such a big dry guy anywhere else. He kicks dust as though he can’t lift his heavy legs high enough, or maybe he just wants to look dirty, trying to justify his day. At the end of a day “dirty” means that some work has been done.
On farm-days everyone calls him “big Nat”, or maybe big “Nad”, I couldn’t understand, indeed I couldn’t understand much at all apart from the sound they make when they pronounce the ‘…at’ or the ‘…ad’ after the capital ‘N’ which starts his name. All I hear is a fat jammed “aaaaa”. The twang. When I look, I notice a net of wrinkles running from the corner of his eyes. Dry riverbeds. These wrinkles, are they channels for water or just rays of warmth from his two suns, his two eyes? His eyes are empty, but smile kindly.
I only wanted to shake his rough hand and feel the strength of this guy, feel how his brushy cracked skin touches mine. I’m looking at his meaty hands. I can’t help it. Big, dirty and brown they are an indication of hardship. Hardship and careless life.
Work is his only hobby, his only thing, his only business, his only everything. All he ever did. The same as his only father ever did. It has nothing to do with money. Because if he even decides to change one wheel on his car it would run 25% better, but why would he? Change is something he doesn’t like, because it’s unnecessary. His father did the same. And that is the way.
Today Nat/d is shopping for a tractor. He’s not planning to buy one, just to shop, shop around. He actually doesn’t need one. I’m standing on the other side of my tent, where I’m waiting for him to respond. I’m thinking to myself “another tyre kicker”, but you have to ask.
–Can I help you? – Hoping he might ask me about my tractors.
–How r ya? – He drops on his way out of my tent.