The other side of the story


As a child, it always aggravated me when, after relaying a story of how I had been wronged or mistreated at school, my mother would always say, “Well, I need to hear the other side of the story.” 

Why couldn’t she just take MY word for what was the truth instead of requiring to hear from another party that couldn’t possibly be as trustworthy as her perfect little boy?

Later in life, when I began to make decisions that affected all aspects of my life, I more appreciated my mother’s insistence on hearing both sides of any story, and it couldn’t have been presented any clearer than something that happened last week.

It was a cool, rainy day so the crowd at the feed store was a little bigger than usual. Everyone there was a regular from about a 5-mile radius of the small, rural store, and we had reached the point of having most of the world’s problems solved when my phone rang. Normally, as a courtesy, I would have excused myself from the group to speak in private with whoever had called, but the call was from my wife, so I simply told the group that the boss was calling and kept my seat.

We were in the process of having a bathroom remodeled and the plumber that was working that day needed an extra tool, so Judy had called to inquire as to whether I had the needed equipment. From her end of the conversation, she stated the plumber needed a large pair of channel-lock pliers. My friends could not hear her request but could clearly make out my answer, “Yeah, I’ve got a pair, but I don’t know if they’re big enough.”

Knowing I was talking to my wife, the crowd erupted with raucous laughter. 

Since I was privy to both sides of the conversation, I had no idea what my buddies had found so amusing when my wife continued by requesting directions on where to find the pliers.

“Oh, I doubt if you can find them without my help,” I answered, “I’ll come on home, now, so we can get this job finished.”

Once again, the outburst of laughter could be heard for a mile or more. 

Finally, I realized what only my side of the conversation must have sounded like to the group of old farmers. Red-faced, I tried to explain to them what had been going on, but their laughter would not subside enough for me to tell the other side of the phone conversation. After all, my side of the conversation made a lot better story to tell to their wives when they returned home.

I could still hear the old guys laughing as I made my way to the truck to leave. 

Upon returning home, I located the pair of channel-locks and, as I suspected, they were not big enough. Surveying the situation, I suggested to the plumber that an oil-filter wrench might do the trick.

He asked, “What size you got?”

I showed him what I had.

“Yeah, I can mount ‘er with that.”

Jerry Crownover farms in Lawrence County. He is a former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University, and is an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry, go to and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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