Yesterday, for the first time in perhaps a year and a half, I just happened to drive past a dairy farm. I hadn’t intentionally been avoiding dairy farms, though I would be the first to admit that such a place could easily be one of the things in life that might actually be worth avoiding. If you’ve ever been to one, or near one, you know what I mean. And if you haven’t, let me paint you the briefest of pictures.
The first thing you notice, as you approach a dairy farm, is the stench. I don’t want to exaggerate and say the stink travels for miles, but the simple fact is that the stink travels for miles. You smell it long before you see it. It’s an acrid smell, a mixture of ammonia, methane, and shit. When you see it, the visuals match. The farm is all silver metal fences marking out the boundaries of dark brown muck punctuated by feeding and watering troughs. A few scattered poles hold up small sections of roofing as token wards against sun and rain. Then there are the cows, of course, crowded together in the small section of shade near the feed, covered from hoof to mid flank in shit or mud or both.
It looks like one of the most miserable circumstances of a life I can imagine. Certainly the cows wouldn’t choose to be there, if they were given a choice. I was momentarily outraged at the insensitivities of my fellow men, who apparently thought that this kind of treatment of these animals was somehow justified. And then I realized: this is the price of cheese.
I received today a copy of the judgment that was entered into court in my divorce proceedings. I don’t really know if there is anything else that still needs to happen before the divorce is considered final, but since the paperwork says the judgment was entered a few days ago, I think that makes it official. I’m divorced.
I went into the human resources office at my workplace and asked to speak with the benefits coordinator. With the divorce final, I have an official qualifying life event that allows me to review the benefits I’ve selected for the year and make any changes that are appropriate. Our company’s benefits coordinator quickly and professionally provided me with the information and instructions I needed, but also gave me something I hadn’t expected: compassion. Instead of being strictly business, the benefits coordinator asked me how I was doing and talked with me for about half an hour about the things I was going through.