I meet a few farmers, ranchers and business people here and there, men and women. There’s always the handshake, that brief skin to skin contact with a stranger that’s suppose to lay their personality before you to be judged. Fish handshake? Knuckle crusher? Firm yet gentle?
Commonly, I don’t shake hands until I’m leaving a job. By that point, we’ve had our interaction and I’ve categorized you neatly based entirely on your look, smell, comments, attitude, demands, and intelligence. Because that’s what we humans do. We take in all this information as a person and start figuring out where they fit within our world, and where exactly we should file them. At that point, the handshake is just ritual, just routine, just what we do so when somebody says, “This is Dave”, we have a physical follow-through instead of just staring at our shoes or walking away awkwardly. I mean, I do anyway, I’m ridiculously awkward, but at least I can shake a hand first.
But I was thinking about shaking hands with women today. One in particular stood out. She had a ranch out in some beautiful but dry country and I was out there to do my thing and look for water. When I shook her hand, I instantly knew a lot about her. It was calloused and rough, leathery and hard. If this hand were to run down your back, it would prickle and grate like sand paper.
This was a hand that worked. This hand had no time for the petty nonsense of pristine nail color, manicured flesh and scented lotions. The hand could help me fix a tractor, throw a bale of hay, and deliver a calf. The hand’s owner wasn’t anybody’s domestic or reality TV buddy or croquet partner.
There was a hardness in it, a reality. Those hands knew years of hard work and labor, with little reward. Those hands were capable and strong. They knew the world was a rough, mean place and I’m sure they gave back in kind.
Neither of us could help but smile as we clasped the calloused, rough hand of a kindred spirit.
I didn’t know I could, but I fell in love with a handshake that day.