Humble Pie is Hard to Swallow Whole

Every once in a while my foot tries to take up residency in my mouth, as was the case recently over a column I’d written titled Cheesiness Does Not Belong in Cowboy Movies. As a writer, I try very hard to be mindful of my column’s intended meanings. Sometimes while pushing to meet my deadline, I get in a hurry and spend too much time focusing on the grammatical aspect of my column and end up being careless in assuming readers will understand the intended interpretation of my words.

I didn’t take the time to thoughtfully consider the way in which I referenced Wall Drug or my choice of words describing their merchandise in my column until I received an email from Jim Shaykett, the sales representative of Resistol and Stetson hats. Although my offhand comment was made in jest toward the topic of my column, I overlooked the possibilities of other potential interpretations.

As a South Dakota native, I have been to Wall Drug—not regularly mind you, but always in the heat of summer and at the peak of tourist season when the combination of summer heat and crowds of people tend to overload me. I have eaten lunch there and strolled through the many different shops but always only noticed the hordes of people and merchandise commonly affiliated with tourists and tourist attractions.

After I read Mr. Shaykett’s email, it was very clear to me that I have not given Wall Drug the chance that it deserves to be more than a place for tourists that come to South Dakota from all over the world to visit and experience. There is a reason why Wall Drug is world famous and sadly, I have overlooked it. I had no connection with the place or the people but because of Mr. Shaykett’s business relationship with the owners and the people who work there, he described his standpoint of what I’d written. His words not only humbled me to tears, he also opened my eyes to the fact that Wall Drug is also a place that locals patronize or work in the off season as well as the busy season. It was obvious that until now, my perspective has been very distorted. I had never taken the time to consider Wall Drug any differently or the numerous points of interest that I’d seen but took for granted.

The night I read his detailed email, I couldn’t sleep and spent most of the night worrying about my mistake and if readers’ opinions of me would change in a way that I did not desire. During my tossing and turning, I formulated a plan to right the situation the best I could. One way was to write about it on my blog.

Like every big mistake I’ve ever made, I’ve always learned a valuable, albeit hard lesson. I have never gained anything from a major mistake by dwelling over it or beating myself up over it and have instead, learned to be open-minded and optimistic and to find something good that could come from my mistake and I feel that I have already. Although the email I got was not the kind I want to get many of, it was kindly written and most insightful; and for that I am truly grateful. Like I said in my reply to Mr. Shaykett, my mistake reminds me of a quote (of which I cannot find the author of): “Getting me into hot water is God’s way of keeping me clean.” It has always been my goal to write in a way that readers can relate to or that I can make a connection with them about and I hope sharing my mistake is no different.

Wall Drug is a free family attraction with all sorts of activities for kids in addition to the many things to see there and is an ideal pit stop before or after a drive through the Badlands nearby or on a road trip across the state. You can learn more about Wall Drug and its history here. I also discovered that Wall Drug has a Facebook page too.

So if you are someone like me who’s taken Wall Drug for granted (and I hope you are not), I hope that you’ll give it another chance and make an effort to see it with a different set of eyes like I plan to do. At my earliest opportunity—hopefully before Christmas, I plan to stop at Wall Drug to look at the art gallery as Mr. Shaykett suggested, peruse the quality American made products and western clothing that he mentioned the Buckboard Store carries, and have a bite to eat. I have had coffee there and it is good, which I am finicky about but I don’t recommend ordering the humble pie.

One response to “Humble Pie is Hard to Swallow Whole”

  1. Kari Sanders Avatar
    Kari Sanders

    So I missed the original article. The kids and I stop by Wall Drug frequently during the drive to my parents. Probably more so in the fall/winter/spring, especially if it is too cold to go the park and play in Wall. We enjoy the artwork and I got Carl a shirt there this past spring. It was on sale and a good buy.

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