Every once in a while a copy Poor Richard’s Almanac will find its way into the house. I don’t know how we acquire them or where you even buy one, but I always take the opportunity to leaf through them with I can.
For those of you who have never read one (probably most people in major cities), Poor Richard’s was at one time the indispensable guide to planting, harvesting, and weather for the American farmer. Since the invention of televised weather, it has become a bit of a joke, but is still a handy reference for moon phases, astrological phenomenon, and agricultural articles. It also includes a classifieds section.
Correction: it includes one of the best classified sections ever, particularly if you’ve got a slightly warped sense of humor.
A great deal of it is what you get in classifieds normally – or normally if your life tends to revolve around growing, raising, harvesting, fertilizing and mass scale yardwork. By this I mean the buying and selling of fish-based fertilizers, tractor parts, seeds and other things generally Guaranteed to Grow or At Least Function Normally, which can be a bit of a challenge in the boonies, let me tell you. But there is a whole section of these classifieds devoted to psychics, astrologers, tarot card readers and other people Guaranteed to Bring You Luck, Money and Love and a Free First Reading.
Now I have nothing against psychics as people or even the concept, but I’m pretty sure there aren’t that many real psychics out there. If there were, the National Weather Service probably would have hired a few on by now or they would be legitimately selling their services to wedding planners (because, wow, wouldn’t it be handy to see what’s going to go wrong on that day). But yet here is “Sister Mary” who is advertising in the back pages of a rural magazine: “Finds lost loves and dispells evil auras.” Or “Dr. Richard Green” who “Solves problems, interprets dreams, and helps relationships,” though that could just as well be my psychologist. Then there is my personal favorite – I don’t remember the name, but I do remember the tagline, which was: “Solves Unusual Problems.” I’d love to know what kind of phone calls he gets.
I don’t know if country people are that gullible or Poor Richard’s is just interested in taking their advertising money, but I do know that people in general are crazy and every once in a while you run into a belief that seems purely nuts, particularly out here. For instance: I had for a while, a woman I worked with who seemed reasonably normal and fairly intelligent. One day, and this is back in 2012, we got into a discussion of the end of Mayan calendar and possibly the end of the world as we knew it. I didn’t know much about what was supposed to happen, and she seemed fairly knowledgeable on the subject, so I asked for an example. She said, “Well, the poles are supposed to reverse.”
To which I replied, without thinking, “So everyone’s compass will be wrong?”
She said, “No, no – the poles effect all kinds of things,” and she could have chosen something that at least sounded legit, like the tides, polar ice drift, or shipping routes, but instead she said, “for example, cows always lie down facing north.”
My first thought which I couldn’t bring myself to say because I was raised to be polite was, “You clearly do not know cows.” I know cows. My grandfather owned a beef cattle farm and most of the “dad stories” that get tossed around in my house features those cows pretty heavily. Your average cow doesn’t know where north is, not even instinctively, and really doesn’t care. Your average cow will lick cold metal poles in the dead of winter. And I don’t mean a tip of the-tongue-kind of lick – I mean a whole-tongue slurp. And they will do this on a regular basis. I give these animals no credit.
My co-worker went on for a while and for the life of me I can’t tell you what else she said, but I don’t remember it getting any more sane. I can only assume that if we’re trusting an animal that chews regurgitated grass to give us directions, then consulting a psychic for that free reading seems like a good use of our money.