John Farrier's Comments

Ruby Payne writes a lot of useful information about how decisions are made by different social classes. I remember she walked me (and a bunch of other people in a lecture hall) through a mental exercise that showed how middle class people might exhibit the same tendencies under the right circumstances.

But as much as it can be useful to understand how people in poverty often make bad decisions, the emphasis should always be on helping them make good decisions.
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Oh, is that what it meant? I saw mentions of it in my Twitter feed (where I follow Zach Weinersmith), but I didn't understand what they were talking about.
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Okay, I will.

I was about 15 or 16 and just learning how to drive. The tractor was a complex machine. It had a clutch, a throttle, a choke and two separate brakes. I had managed to briefly drive in second gear without killing anyone.

My uncle said that we needed to drive a mile or so down the road to see a neighbor. So I started driving the tractor. He thought that we weren't going fast enough, so he told me to put it into third gear, which I had never done before. I did so. Then he said that we should slip into fourth gear.

The tractor's shift plate had eroded over 50 years, so the number 4 had long since disappeared. I had no idea the tractor even had a fourth gear. "Get into fourth gear," he said. "What?!" This was a crazy idea. "Step on the clutch." I did so. My uncle reached over me and shifted the tractor into fourth gear.

So we were now barreling down a country highway at what I can assume was a hundred miles an hour. At least, that's how it felt.

I had only a vague sense of how the brakes worked. That became critical as we approached an intersection with cars. We survived because the cars were not on collision courses with us and I did know how to slow us down a bit with the throttle.

The other time I suppose I was about 12. My father was driving. I stood behind him on the toolbox mounted on the frame and my brother was straddling the engine. We drove along a ditch. This tractor had a high center of gravity and we were moving at a steep angle. At the time, it seemed quite likely to me that we would roll over and the tractor would land on top of my brother.
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Profile for John Farrier

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