Sunday, December 19, 2010

Not all of them are salt of the earth.

Here's a bad story from Tractor Supply. There is a fellow who considers himself a big shot in the local agricultural arena. He hires transients to pick his stuff. He has two elderly locals who help him all year around. I won't do business with him because he also hires kids to pick for him. He works like this: He pays by the quart, but when the kids hand their quarts to him, he says, "These are not full quarts." He then combines the contents of the baskets, heaping them full. In this way, he gets about 1 1/3 quarts of produce picked for the price of a quart. Before he put the produce out to sell, he removes that mound of berries, and replaces it into other baskets, turning that 3 quarts of berries back into 4 quarts of berries. Like I said, I do not do business with the man. There are plenty of folks around who are ethical and good. I will not deal with a crook who steals from the pockets of the people who work for him, yet he is quick to pull the "I'm just a simple farmer who loves the land" routine when it benefits him. He takes. He does not give back.

He is a very heavy man who has been unfailingly polite to me. He calls me 'dear' and he calls me 'honey'. This sets my teeth on edge because I think that he is an odious man, but what can I say? I call people 'hon' too, and I suppose that it could be just a habit. I give him the benefit of the doubt and just stay very guarded with him. I don't like him.

In any case, he was into the store with the elderly lady who helps him, a woman who is in her seventies. She is always poorly dressed and dirty and tired looking, and it bothers me to see her. He came up to the register, and set his things up, and said to his helper in his very important way, "Lift that up for her," gesturing to a sack of feed. I quickly said, "No. That is not necessary. I can reach," and I walked around the counter with my pricer and got the bag. He was getting some Christmas shopping done too, and I rang him up for those things, and in his careless, nonchalant way, he pushed his check at me, and called me dear. I smiled because I am paid to do so, and began to process his check. I said, in my careful voice, "I will need your ID for such a large check," and he said once more in his important voice, "Run out and get my wallet from the truck," and the elderly lady shuffled off into the cold.

I think of the words that Christ said with his own lips: "But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first." I know that He was referring to situations just like this one. I know this.

I watch them leave. The shuffling elderly lady pushes the cart behind him as he waddles importantly to the door. I am a licensed lay reader in the Episcopal Church, something that used to matter when I was an Episcopalian. Now I am a Methodist and it does not matter at all. But when we processed into the church, there was a pattern. The priest followed us all. His position at the back of the procession was 'the position of honor.' Unwittingly, the important farmer has got that part right. And that made me smile.

What's the opposite of salt of the earth? Pepper?


A Novel Woman said...

I would have guessed manure over pepper.

BUSH BABE said...

See, I am thinking steam? Makes mud and gets you all hot and bothered?

(ps - really Jeanie, early on a Monday morning trying to work out numbers for the BB)

Scotty said...

Manure, lol - loved that. Don't people like that just annoy the heck out of you though? And that cheating part with the berries? Man, I would sooo call him out on that.

Anyway,have yourself a nice Christmas, Debby - warmest wishes to you and yours - be well, be safe.


Bill of Wasilla said...

I wouldn't go for pepper - because I like pepper. It brings life to the bland.

As for manuer, it provides nutrients to so many of the good foods that we eat...

I am a little stumped on this one...

Good piece... I can't help but worry for you a bit, though. I love what you write about at the store and think it could be the basis for one of the books in your canon-to-be. So I hope you get to work there for awhile yet.

Kelly said...

Hmmm... makes me think of a guy in our parts that would hire teens to pick peas. He was the opposite, though. He paid well, the kids who worked for him loved it and would race each other to see who could pick the most. It was a win/win situation for all involved.

This guy sounds like the kind that makes your skin crawl.

Mary Paddock said...

It really gets me on a visceral level when I hear stories like this. Manure is useful. This man isn't.

Lydia said...

OK, this reminds me of the story Christ told about the Rich Man and Poor Lazarus who got to have a little chat with each other after they stepped off the planet.

I think for me, the opposite of salt of the earth, would be salt that lost its flavor. (just going with the biblical references)