I’d like to congratulate my friend Carole on her retirement from clerking three and four livestock auctions a week for over 50 years. Oops, I’m sorry I realize now that by saying 50 years, I’m guilty of AGEISM.

••KEEP••Lee Pitts Mug
Lee Pitts is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email them at leepitts@leepittsbooks.com.

I don’t know if you know this or not but most of the people who do the most important work at a weekly livestock auction are not male but female. Darn it, by implying that there are only two sexes, male and female, I’m ashamed to admit that I may have been gender binary, practicing gender-based discrimination and HETEROSEXISM.

Like many females, or I should probably say birthing humans or persons of ovum, Carole started out in 1966 riding a horse penning back cattle at the Western Stockman’s Market north of Bakersfield, California. Needless to say, this is a highly skilled job that requires a good horse and a good rider. It’s not a job for little girls riding bareback. Shame on me, there I go again, by referring to the size of the horseback riders, I am in the wrong for engaging in SIZEISM.


It didn’t take long for Carole to rise from riding a horse to being weighmaster and then clerk in 1974, one year after I began going to Skinner Hardy’s Western Stockman’s Market. In my 50 years in the business, rarely have a seen a man as a clerk on the auction block. In my opinion, this is because to be a good clerk you can’t let your mind wander for a second and obviously, this is a trait not usually associated with men. Clerking comes naturally to women. Go to any bull sale, and you’ll see wives writing prices down for no apparent reason. In all the years of watching Carole on the block, I never saw her have to ask the auctioneer to repeat a price. Women are just better at clerking than men, and I say this knowing it’s ABLEISM.

I think I’ve only seen one male clerk at a weekly auction in my life, and it was at a weekly dairy sale and the clerk was the owner of the market, an old Portuguese ex-dairyman who was too cheap to hire a clerk, so he did it himself. Oh no, I just breached the worst ISM of all in mentioning that the owner was Portuguese and therefore I’m culpable for committing RACISM.

I may be opening myself up to CRITICISM because I have mostly traveled in the West and I don’t know if male clerks are more prevalent in the East. If so I apologize for my REGIONALISM.

I swear I’m not trying to be a misogynist, nor am I engaging in social oppression, when I brag on the female auction clerks I’ve known. But think about it, a lot of the pen back riders, weighmasters, help in the front office and on the auction block are all female. Two jobs the ladies have not broken into yet at the auction are ring men and auctioneering. I don’t know why this is but I have a sneaky suspicion it’s CLASSISM.

Carole has clerked for five different World Champion auctioneers and they were all men! To my knowledge there’s never been a female in the top ten at the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship. In fact, I don’t know if there’s ever been a female ever enter the contest. You’d think there would have been at least one female contestant but upon further reflection I just realized that would be TOKENISM.

To celebrate her long career Carole wrote a neat little essay titled “Long Ride” about her career and the people she was fortunate to work with. Since I took some of my information for this column from her essay I may be guilty of PLAGIARISM. If so, I apologize. But you can see how difficult it is to be a politically correct writer these days without violating any of the ISMS plaguing our society.

All I wanted to do was write a simple little essay congratulating Carole for her long and distinguished career and to say how much her friendship has meant to me. You Go, Girl!

Oh no, I’m conscience-stricken thinking I may have just engaged in SEXISM. How insensitive of me!

On the other hand, don’t you think all this ISM business is just a bunch of STUPIDISM?