Friday, October 31, 2014


Yes-men “Yes”, I said to the woman who asked if she might photograph our Navajo baskets. “Yes”, I acquiesced when she wanted to handle a Nancy Chilly-Yazzie pottery vase. “Yes”, I allowed as she requested permission to take our Navajo rugs out into the sunlight to evaluate their quality. “Yes, yes, yes,” I said, “This is a yes place. We don’t like to say no.” The woman sensed my weakness and seemed inclined to press her advantage.

Hearing my comments, Priscilla nodded her head knowingly. After almost 25 years at Twin Rocks Trading Post, I have become a “yes-man”. The problem is that Priscilla has the same attribute. While one might question whether a woman has the essential characteristics, defines a yes-man as, “A man or woman who always expresses agreement.” Therefore, according to that imminently reliable resource Priscilla qualifies. As a result, Barry is the only person on the premises capable of saying “no," and when he is out of town we are in trouble.

At some point in my conversation with the assertive customer, I began to worry what might happen if she asked for a thousand dollars. Barry was traveling, so I wondered whether I would be compelled to give it to her, and whether Priscilla would consent. Years ago, Momma Rose claimed I would, “Argue with the Devil.” What that meant I was never completely sure, but she may have felt I was incapable of agreeing with anyone, including Old Scratch himself. Maybe she thought I was unpleasant, or maybe she believed I would simply debate all issues, no matter the subject. In any case, the trading post has apparently diminished my argumentative nature.
Navajo Male and Female Pottery Vase - Nancy Chilly (#55)

Despite Rose’s assessment, I have always viewed myself as a congenial individual. When I recently mentioned this personal assessment to Jana, she just laughed and said, “Let’s discuss that some other time.” On this point, however, Barry seems to agree with me. He is forever saying I am too soft on the artists and customers. “No wonder they always ask for Steve," he frequently comments to Priscilla, “he always gives in.” She just nods sympathetically and wonders whether there is enough left in the checkbook to make payroll.

Barry is more of the old-time trader type. It is the art of the deal that motivates him. In fact, I think he got Duke’s trader gene and I was left out of that particular genetic transfer. Indeed, the trait may have run out by the time I arrived. I guess I lean more towards Rose’s side of the family, although how that factors into the equation I do not really understand. In any case, I justify our situation by contending that Barry and I balance each other out, and the end result is workable. We will see what happens in the long term.

When it comes to ace traders, I am often reminded of Bob Slaven, one of Duke’s best trading buddies. Years ago Duke and Bob would load Bob’s truck with goods and hit the road for weeks at a time, trading for anything they came across. A jar of coins, elk teeth, deer horns, bear skin rugs, saddles, guns, jewelry, turquoise, steer scrotum purses, whatever they stumbled onto was fair game. When they returned, Priscilla and I would marvel at their stories and acquisitions, and from time-to-time bury the newly acquired trade-goods under the counter in hopes they would never again see the light of day. For Bob and Duke, the issue was never yes or no. Instead, it was how they were going to get the deal done, and they always did.

A few days after our initial encounter, the woman returned and I turned numb with fear. What might she request this time, I wondered. She immediately started in, “May I take your picture?” “Yes, if you don’t fear for your camera," I approved. Spotting Barry, she said, “Who’s that? Can I get his picture too?” “Okay," I said, shrugging my shoulders. Barry was not so sure, but I had already committed him. There was no way out.

Eyeing Buffy, and sensing his companion had me on the ropes, the woman’s husband said, “Hey, what about that old dog? She looks like a good one. Can we take her home with us?” Priscilla and I froze. Taking a page from the Duke and Bob play book, however, Barry saved the day by pointing to me and saying, “Sure, if you take him with you.” That, as they say, ended the conversation and Buffy and I remained on the job.

Feeling something had to be done to prevent a catastrophe, Barry recently enrolled Priscilla and me in “No Therapy." While the progress has been slow, we are getting better. “No, no, no," Priscilla and I chant several times each morning, confident we will one day overcome our handicap.

With warm regards from Steve Simpson and the team;
Barry, Priscilla, and Danny.

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