An old western expression that translates to, “we have a passing acquaintance but have never been formally introduced.” On the surface simple enough to be readily understand but I feel that there is a deeper meaning, embodied in the word “shook.”

The handshake was once the traditional way to seal a deal. It did much more than simply signal the end of a discussion and mark the point where the lawyers would begin their involvement. A man’s (generic, women are included) morals, ethics and honor were all tied together in that act of pressing the flesh.

A handshake implied promise, engendered expectation, held the possibility of disappointment and was not to be taken lightly. How things have changed.

A couple of years ago I had two old project cars taking up space in the back of our lot, a ’79 Pontiac firebird and an ’89 Camaro RS. I advertised them on Craig’s List for $500 apiece, hoping for a quick sale.

On the first day a guy showed up with his fifteen year old son in tow. He said that they were looking for a project, something that he and the boy could build together. The lad fell in love with the old Pontiac and a deal was struck. The only glitch was that I would have to wait a week for payment and so I agreed to hold the car.

Later the same day another buyer came by. I explained that the car was sold. His response was to offer $800 cash on the spot if I would sell it to him. He seemed confused and then angry when I said that I couldn’t take his money because I had already shook on the deal with the other fellow.

By no means do I hold myself out to be a paragon of virtue but I do believe that if you can put a price tag on ethics you might be missing out on some very important aspects of human interaction.

I miss those days when a handshake was the seal to a deal, not the arcane language hidden in the fine print of a contract. This computer age has pretty much reduced us all to ones and zeroes in a world where all corporations now hire people for the express purpose of finding ways to increase profitability without resorting to the bothersome task of rendering additional service.

I may be blowing against the wind but each time we shake on something I think that we should ask ourselves, is this a commitment or merely a gesture.

About rixlibris

Retired from child care photography after thirty years of coaxing smiles and wiping noses. Currently venting years of repressed fictional story lines via self-published novels. Married and still alive in a remote corner of Waller County, Texas.
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  1. I’ve never heard that phrase before. Thanks for a terrific read.

  2. Gone are the days when a man’s word is his bond and like you say ethics has been chucked out of the window. Everything is for sale.

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    • rixlibris says:

      I don’t know, although I hate to admit that there were times in my life when it was amazingly low. As we live we evolve and I certainly would not like to be judged solely on my past. My greatest accomplishment is that I no longer live there. Great question but no real answer until the test comes along.

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