Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.

Donate

Pawlenty book excerpt (he’s from working-class roots) and book tour

Any day now, Gov. Pawlenty can devote full-time to his presidential campaign without having to listen to a bunch of niggling from the cheap seats about how he is neglecting his gubernatorial duties. By fortunate happenstance, he has book due out on Jan. 11 and a book tour that begins two days later in Washington and covers six states (yes, Iowa and New Hampshire are on there, and so is Minnesota, with book-signing events in Woodbury Jan. 18 and Burnsville and St. Cloud Jan. 27) over the following two and a half weeks. (The cities and dates are here, but not the precise times and locations.)

His operation has also released an excerpt from the book, in which TPaw recalls working, alongside his dad, to untangle a tangled mess of meat hooks that had rotting meat still sticking to them, till young Tim puked, but as he often has in his subsequent life in politics, after a certain amount of puking, he buckled down and got it done. Here’s the excerpt:

I think i was about twelve when my dad picked up a side job to earn a few bucks one weekend — a side job that required my help.

It was a hot, sweltering summer day, the kind of day when outside work is the last thing anyone wants to do. But my dad clearly needed me, and I always wanted to lend a hand if I could. I didn’t ask a lot of questions, and he didn’t give me very much information about the task at hand – until we got down to this parking lot beside a warehouse.

The ‘side job’ included yanking meat hooks from large wooden bins that were stashed in a couple of truck trailers on the lot. Tangled meat hooks that once held whole sides of beef were tossed in those bins, in trucks without Thermo Kings to cool down their trailers. Hundreds of thick, heavy meat hooks, covered with discarded raw remnants of sinew and fat, all rotting in the blistering heat. It was up to my dad and me to pull out every one of those hooks and hang them up – presumably to be power-washed and used again.

Have you ever opened up an expired or rotting pack of hamburger from the bottom of your refrigerator and given it a big whiff? Yeah. Multiply that times a thousand, and you’ll get the idea. You could smell that rotting meat as soon as we opened the doors of those trailers.  Then, when we hopped up there, we could hear the buzzing. My dad reached in and grabbed the first hook, and I held my breath and leaned in through a swarm of flies to grab mine – and I lost it. I tossed my cookies next to one of the bins, only adding to the mess and the stench.

My dad didn’t say much to me. I looked up at him, hoping for an out. He isn’t really gonna make me keep doing this, is he? My dad’s face was steady. He wasn’t having an easy go of it either. But he looked at me and said quietly, ‘We have to do this.’

It was all he needed to say.

We have to do this. We may not want to. We may not like it. It may be messy. But there are times in life when we ‘have to.’ We keep moving forward, regardless of the challenge. Our family needed money, and my dad needed my help. So I wiped my mouth on my short-sleeved shirt, pulled my gloves on a little tighter, and stuck my hands back into the hooks. Over the course of a few hours, we got the job done.

We have to do this. It’s impossible to count how many times I’ve applied that lesson in my life, especially in the political arena, where the tangled mess often seems insurmountable. When a job needs doing, get it done. Plow through; never give up. Keep moving forward. When it’s right, when it’s necessary, just do it.

My parents taught me many lessons in those early years, many of which slipped quietly into my subconscious. I’m forever grateful to both of them for all they did for me, for all of us kids. They were the constants in my life.

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by rolf westgard on 12/13/2010 - 01:20 am.

    The TPaw of today would have used a different approach to those meat hooks. He would have deferred the job for the people of the next shift just as he did with the oligations of the past biennium.

Leave a Reply