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H W Shelton
You see them almost everywhere.
It's hard to drive through a town or on a country road anymore without at least one of them popping up. We've all, at one time or the other, had to wait in line behind miles (it seems) of cars and trucks that are stopped because of them blocking the roadway doing whatever they do. They make a lot of noise and seem to be laughing at us from time to time.
But there is one thing that the average driver will agree upon, they are scary!
Big, 2 to 3 times our vehicle size, with huge tires that sometimes are taller than our cars.
They always seem to have a "man-handler" with them and although it might appear that the man is in control, make no mistake my friends, they do whatever they want and they call the shots.
At least that's what they used to be known as around these parts, although they do seem to come in all colors.
Folks didn't say anything too nice about them if they spoke of them at all.
To get into town, you had to drive by the place where their handler would take them at night and you could see them, sleeping, I'd guess.
Most folks tried to stay quiet as they went by for fear of waking them up and who knows what they might have done. It was a strange sight just looking at them with their big jaws resting on the ground. Their loud motors are quiet and their big funny feet not moving at all, almost peaceful.
But come the next day, they could be seen roaming the countryside and highways in search of something to tear up or dismantle.
Did I mention that most folks just stayed clear of them and yes, scary, was the word most used to describe them.
But that was before we understood them.
Before we got to know them as a really friendly, sincere group of machines that cared a lot more than we had ever realized.
Before we arrived at the place where we are now, a place where we call them, dare I say it, friends"? Yes, friends.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, sit back and let me tell you the story of how those Yellows, changed this town for good and how we look on them now as friends and neighbors.
It was back a few years ago now, in the spring time when the entire world was alive with new color after a harsh winter, I remember the events like it was yesterday.
I had just opened my hardware store for the day when all of a sudden the front door flew open and Bob, the barber from next door, ran in all out of breath.
He was waving his arms about much like a big bird trying to take flight and his eyes were bulging out like he's seen a ghost or something.
"Bob," I shouted, "calm down and tell me what's going on".
"The Jackson kid, Teddy, they think he's wandered off into that old mine down in Hicks Woods." Bob blurted out and then took a big drink of coffee and continued.
"The Sheriff is asking that anyone that can help should get down there as soon as possible."
I thought for a second and then jumped into action.
"Bob, help me load some shovels and rope and other things we might need and let's get at it."
I said, as Bob and I started grabbing whatever tool we thought might come in handy.
When we had it all together we jumped in my truck and took off for the meeting place at Hicks Woods.
I don't know about Bob, but I don't mind saying I began to pray a little under my breath.
That old mine had not been used in 75 years or more and should have been sealed up a long time ago.
When we got to the Woods there must have been a hundred good town folks gathered there and the Sheriff was asking if anyone knew that old shaft well enough to go in.
The dogs had tracked little teddy to the opening and we all knew what that meant.
That boy was in there, wet from the rain and scared to death, was crying, I'd bet, and wanting his Mommy and Daddy.
As we were talking about it, that's when it happened.
A loud boom and timber cracking and smoke coming out of the opening of that old mine.
"Dear Lord, I heard myself say out loud, that thing is caving in with that boy in there!"
Now as luck would have it, just as this happened, a handler with his Yellow was passing by and stopped to see what was going on.
When he was brought up to date, he calmly turned to his Yellow and did something I'd never seen before. He started talking to that thing like it was human or something, and as I live and breathe, that Yellow talked back!
I know it sounds like I've had too much of Bob's coffee, but that thing started talking to his handler as if they did it all the time.
We couldn't make out what was being said between them but pretty soon the handler turned around to us and said; "Jo-Jo here, thinks we need to make a call back to the barn and get some help out here and I agree with him."
He said that very matter of fact and I didn't hear anyone say anything different.
To tell the truth, no one said anything, period, we all just stood there with our mouths open.
"We'll take care of it then" the handler said and turned back around and nodded to the Yellow.
With that, the Yellow started talking on his radio in some kind of "machine" talk that I had never heard before.
When the talking was over the Yellow said something to his handler and the guy turned around and said, "Help is on the way."
We all just kind of nodded and looked at each other.
It wasn't very long until we heard the sound of heavy equipment moving down the highway.
As they topped the hill and turned into the wooded area there must have been 50 of them. Yellow machines were everywhere!
As they came near the old mine, they all stopped and their handlers dismounted.
Those Yellows were moving themselves!
There was this one that rolled up to the entrance and started working his big shovel digging out the rocks and timber that was blocking the way.
He would throw it back over to the side and this "jackhammer" would go to work on it making gravel out of these big rocks.
We found out later that his name was "Jack".
Another big orange truck would pull up, load the gravel and move it back out of the way in a pile.
Those Yellows knew just what to do at every turn.
When the entrance was visible again, this one big Yellow called on his radio and up from the back of the crowd came this little, I'll say it, cute little yellow.
You could tell by his big eyes and the way he moved that he wasn't fully grown and that they were all counting on him to do his thing.
Without a hesitation this little guy just plowed right on into the depths of that old mine and disappeared.
Well, things got really quiet around that place.
The humans weren't talking and neither were the Yellows.
All eyes were on that opening, waiting for, well, whatever was going to happen.
We heard it before we saw it.
The little Yellow came scooting out of that old mine with little Teddy riding high up on his seat and hanging on to the steering wheel for all he was worth.
He was grinning from ear to ear, other than being a little wet and dirty didn't appear to be in a hurting state.
When we saw this sight, everyone there let out a hoop and a hollow and starting patting everyone on the back and hugging whoever didn't get out of the way fast enough.
Yes, those Yellows got patted also and I believe I saw little Teddy's Daddy hug that little Yellow with the big eyes. I know his Mommy did, I was thinking about it myself!
Before we left that place, those Yellows got busy and closed that old mine up for good.
You couldn't even tell where that mine had been when those big boys finished.
After it was over the handlers got back on board, said goodbye, and left without any big to-do's whatsoever.
Well, that's the story of the Yellows and what they mean to this town.
Needless to say we never just drive by one anymore without speaking and smiling, and you know something else?
I think they speak and smile right back at us.
No one is scared of those big guys any more and we show them the kind of respect that they deserve. We all have to live here together and there's no reason we can't be friends.
Remember, they do a job that no one else could do.
Look around your town and see just how many new Yellow friends you can make.
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