Keep It Simple


Steve Nauman

In about 1976 while I was working full time in my fathers general store, I learned a lot with my eyes and ears—and that’s where today’s story comes from.

It was a weekday mid afternoon, fairly quiet in that country general store. My father was in the city with the truck buying inventory for the store, and I was behind the front counter helping customers as needed……. A few farmers had been in to buy some hardware (I can still remember one bought several boxes of carriage bolts…must be building a hay wagon I thought to myself).

Joe (not his real name) was leaning up against the ice cream freezer drinking his daily chocolate milk and eating some snacks before heading down the road to his second shift job at the nearby factory. Joe was a good hearted, hardworking family man, but on that day I was glad that he decided to stay over there and “trap” someone else with his DETAILED conversations.

I did talk with Joe many, many times and usually enjoyed it, but that day knowing I was the only one running the front of the store, plus waiting on customers, I was just glad he was over there. You see, Joe had a way of putting details on top of more details, until you didn’t have any idea what he was talking about…..And sometimes the longer he talked and the more he tried to explain something, it would just get more confusing—because of all the details.

As I was waiting on a customer, I saw a truck driver come walking in with a paper in his hand, which usually means he needs directions. Instead of walking over to me at the counter for directions, he walked straight to Joe and showed him the bill of lading with the address he was looking for. 

Joe just stared at it in silence…..”so how do I get there from here?“- the driver said.  Joe slowly took off his cap, scratched his head as he says “whyaa…which way are you headed? As they both walked to the front to look out at his truck. Joe looks and says: “well…at least you’re headed in the right direction. Now…keep going that way down past Perry’s, you’ll go past Maple Grove, down the dip by DeLee’s, then slow down at The Center because you’ll come to a fork in the road—but stay in the middle. Then you’ll go down past Stanley’s and wind around the river flats by Green’s farm.

After that you go past the Card place and then you got about a half mile of nothing before you get to Seventh Day Hollow, but keep going. Then you’ll go straight down the other river flats past where the old dump used to be and you’ll start up a grade and go past Byron’s place -but you can’t hardly see it.

Then you’ll start down another grade and go past Squeak’s place, and start across another nice flat and go past the old Green farm-but I don’t know who’s there now. Just a little bit farther on your left will be the Stage Road—but don’t turn there! Keep going straight up and down a few more dips, then you’ll go past the place that used to be Horton’s just before you start down the hill into the burg. Then you just go three quarters of the way and turn right and you can’t miss it.” 

Then Joe headed out the door saying “I’ve got to get headed to work, so long!” Joe smiled and waved goodbye as he headed to his car, I’m sure he felt happy that he was able to help someone that day!

The truck driver driver slowly walked towards me, held out the paper and sheepishly said “do you know the way to this place?” I looked at the paper and said: “seven miles south, turn right in the center of the next town, they have a big sign in front of the building.”

He said “That’s it? That’s all there is to it?” I said “That’s it.” 

Then he said “well why did that guy have me going all over the place, some complicated mess…..mumble mumble! I said “what he told you was the exact same route I gave you…..He just included every little detail along the way.” Then he said “well why did he do that to me?” I told him he does it with everyone about everything. He’s a detail person. 

I like the simple, comforting directions Jesus gave when He told his disciples that He was leaving and going to prepare a place for them.

“And you know the way where I am going. Thomas said to Him, Lord we do not know where you are going, how do we know the way? Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:4-6 (NASB)

Jesus spoke with authority, yet He also spoke plain and simple so his followers (and you and I ) could easily understand…… I love it!                     You know, when I was listening to those directions from Joe to that truck driver, I was pretty sure of something, and when the driver showed me the paper I knew it……………. That whole long, drawn-out mess could have been avoided by Joe saying just two little words…….. “follow me!”

That was the factory where Joe worked!  

Till Next Time…..

[thrive_leads id=’1930′]

Previous Post:

Steve Nauman

These wonderful posts are written by my good friend Steve Nauman. He lives on a farm in northern Indiana with his wife, Ruth.

He owned and operated a machine shop until 2020. These stories come from the people and experiences that made lasting impressions upon him as he grew up in his father's general store in Upstate NY and later in his own business.