Rod Miller: Counting Hands Around The Ol’ Campfire

Columnist Rod Miller writes, "Supper was over and our favorite crew of cowboys sat around the ol’ campfire enjoying roll-yer-owns and the simple pleasures of a Wyoming night. Then the talk turned to politics."

Rod Miller

July 05, 20244 min read

Rod miller campfire 4 23 24
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Supper was over and our favorite crew of cowboys sat around the ol’ campfire enjoying roll-yer-owns and the simple pleasures of a Wyoming night. Then the talk turned to politics.

“Hey,” Latigo Lou mused, “didja hear what that li’l Secretary of State feller wants to do?”

“I ‘magine he wants to do a whole lotta things,” said Sourdough, “but I’ll bite. What now?”

“He wants to unplug all the vote-countin’ machines an’ do it all by hand.”

“By cowhand?” queried Sourdough.

Latigo Lou chuckled, “Naw, by real hands.”

“Does that li’l nimrod have any idea how many hands that’ll take?” asked Joe the Wrangler.

“It don’t matter to him,” said Latigo. “He hates machines an’ only trusts humans. But it’ll take a whole passel.”

“Jes don’t git no bankers to count,” mused the Trail Boss, with a disgusted look, “Them sonsabitches always short count ya on cows an’ money. Then long count ya on what ya owe.”

Cowboys dodged campfire smoke and warmed up to the conversation.

“He oughta git a few thousand card sharps.” This from Panhandle who spoke from bitter experience. “Them shysters got quick hands. Quicker’n yer damn eyes, l tell ya. Them sly bastids’ll count them ballots in no time.”

“He’ll need way more’n a thousand hands,” offered Sourdough, as he segued into, “My uncle says there’s a whole family of six-fingered folks down in Georgia, around them chicken farms. Them hillbillies been marryin’ first cousins fer so long, they all got an extra finger on each hand. They can pick up two more chickens than anyone else. Highly prized poultry workers, from what I understand.”

“Seems to me,” said the Kaycee Kid, “that’s a natural job fer pickpockets. Iff’n our Secretary of State can round up a couple thousand of ‘em from New York or San Francisco, his problems are over. Them gypsies can lift yer wallet without ya feelin’ a thing. They’d be better than any damn commie at countin’ votes.”

Rawhide Ricky from Rawlins chimed in, “Iff’n all we need is extra hands, sex workers might do the trick. You know, like ol’ Rosie Palm an’ her five sisters from down there on Front Street. I hear business has tapered off for them gals since the Ivermectin mine closed.”

Banter around the ol’ campfire centered on suggestions for adept vote counters. Knife fighters were recommended. Quick draw gunslingers, too. Knittin’ an’ purlin’ grandmas, someone said, would have the patience but would be slow.

“Whoever he gits, they gotta pinkie-promise not to cheat. Like scout’s honor or somethin’.” offered the Kaycee Kid, “That way there fer shore won’t be no monkey business.”

“Wait!” interjected Soudough. “None o’ these folks is gonna work for free. Where’s the money to pay ‘em gonna come from?” 

This led to serious noggin-scratching in the firelight.

“There’s only two ways, as I see it.” said Cookie. “Either we make enough money sellin’ them vote-countin’ computers for scrap, or we gotta assess a tax on votin’, like a poll tax.”

“Y’all ain’t seein’ this from a capitalist point o’ view.” Panhandle sipped his coffee and said in a measured tone. “We get the candidates to pay the vote counters. Like pay ‘em so many dollars fer so many votes counted for the candidate.”

Cowboys counted on fingers around the ol’ campfire, and heads nodded.

“Hell,” concluded Panhandle, “we’ll make money hand over fist on that deal.”

Cookie brought the meeting to a close by calling for the question. “All in favor of the li’l Secretary’s idea, raise your hands.”

Rod Miller can be reached at:

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Rod Miller

Political Columnist