Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Memory Safe #3 Sour Grapes of Wrath

Harry & David, the fancy Oregon fruit producer has filed for bankruptcy. I hadn't thought about that place in a lot of years and I couldn't help feeling a little shadenfruede when I heard the news this morning. Let me explain.

In 1975 I dropped out of college and headed West on my Woody Guthrie/Hank Williams/Bob Dylan vision quest thing. This involved sleeping in a lot of Interstate ditches, smoking other people's cigarettes, and looking for the worst possible jobs available. Picking fruit, of course, qualified. It was Cesar Chavez, John Steinbeck and David Allen Coe all in one basket. I stood in line for over an hour at the Harry & David orchards in Medford, OR to sign on. My fellow applicants were a mix of hippies like me, Latinos, bums, roughnecks and teenagers. I was healthy, strong and willing to work and was already forming my questions about work hours, housing, and how many weeks of employment Harry & David might be willing to commit to me.

When I finally stepped up to the table the conversation was short.
Foreman Guy: Any experience?
Me: Doing what, picking fruit?
Foreman Guy: Yes, picking fruit. That's what we do here.
Me: I assumed this was an entry level position.
Foreman Guy: You assumed wrong. Move along. Next!

I walked away in a daze. I'd just been denied a job as a migrant laborer. Granted, the country was in the middle of a huge recession with sky high inflation and unemployment, but still -- I couldn't get a job picking fruit.

I found a no-experience-necessary job planting trees for Weyerhaeuser in the Cascades a few days later. A good life followed and here I sit thinking about that long ago rejection. Had Harry & David given me that job I might have excelled at it. Moved up. Been the foreman guy. Maybe moved into management eventually. Secured an equity position in the company. And today I'd be bankrupt.
Sour grapes taste kind of sweet sometimes.


Anonymous Another Tom said...

Or just maybe, had they given you the job, you might have excelled at it, moved up, become the foreman, moved into management and, just maybe, under your amazing leadership, they wouldn't have gone bankrupt after all. Their loss is our gain.

3:26 PM  
Blogger Angelswatch said...

Curious, was this on your trek to ed and the gang at the end of the road ?
If so then picking fruit would of given you an edge up there. You could of taught the gang how it's done and had your own company by now. Guess we'll never know what could of been.

6:25 PM  
Anonymous Jenny said...

Besides missing the talent you undoubtedly had to offer, I had to muse on their packaging when I heard they had declared. I guess shipping fruit requires a lot of protection, but every time I open one of their packages, I marvel that the corrugation and foam sponge must be worth more than the fruit.

11:37 AM  

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