Suva, So Good

, , , , , | Hopeless | January 21, 2018

This story takes place over 40 years ago, when I was four. Even though I was so young, I remember it vividly. My parents owned a tobacco farm. This was back when private farmers were allowed to grow tobacco commercially. They’re not, anymore, and the farm is now apples and kiwifruit.

During the harvest, most of the picking was done by workers from Fiji, big men who would come to New Zealand and work impossibly long hours in the fields, earning every cent they could. Their money would be sent home, saved carefully, and made to last until they returned the following year.

In the small town where I grew up, there were no people of any colour, not even Māori (native New Zealanders), so my sister and I had never seen black people before. The workers were huge, ebony-black men with big shaggy afros and deep, booming voices. The first time we met them we screamed and ran away crying. Our parents were mortified. They tried everything they could to stop us being afraid of the workers and to get us to interact with them more positively, but nothing worked.

The workers were more sad than offended. They loved children and missed their own dreadfully.

One day I wandered away from my mother in the tobacco field. Those fields were vast spaces, with tobacco plants in long, long rows, taller than I was. Soon, I was hopelessly lost. My family panicked, but it was one of the Fijians who had the bright idea of climbing onto the roof of one of the sheds so he could look down on the fields. It didn’t take him long to spot me, and he ran towards me.

I was hiding under a tobacco plant, crying. As he got closer, he slowed down and hid behind a plant, too. Of course, as he was so huge, I could see him, and I was scared. I slowly peeked out… and so did he. Then, he let out a gasp and a squeal and hid again. This went on for a few minutes; both of us peeking out and hiding again when we saw each other. I started to giggle and walked shyly out from behind the plant. He jumped to his feet and ran off down the row in a cartoon-like fashion, his arms and legs going in all directions, letting out the same high-pitched squeal. Of course, I ran after him, laughing all the way… and we ran right back to my parents, who were by that stage almost hysterical.

I soon learned that all the workers had the same comic, zany sense of humour where kids were involved, and that they loved to play as much as we did. My sister and I became fast friends with them; in fact, we were probably pains in their a**es, because we kept wanting to play with them while they were picking.

Most of us grow up and learn that racism is a terrible thing. I was lucky in that I learned it very early on, and I have never, ever been able to tolerate the notion that someone is less, or more, because of skin colour. I have always been grateful to my first Fijian buddy for teaching me this incredibly valuable lesson.

Customers Are A Danger To Everyone

, , , , , , | Right | December 11, 2017

(I work as a farmhand, and part of my job description entails operating farm tractors and ATVs. Due to safety regulations, as well as liability and insurance policies, customers are not permitted to ride on the tractors or ATVs. On this particular day, I’m helping customers by taking baskets of tomatoes they’ve left in the field to the storefront, where they can check out. To do this, I need a tractor.)

Me: *driving tractor* “Can I help you guys with anything?”

Customer: “Yeah. Can you pick up our tomatoes, please?”

Me: “Sure, I’ll go and get them.”

(I drive off, and the customer starts yelling. I stop the tractor.)

Customer: “Can I get a ride?”

Me: “I’m sorry, sir; it’s against our safety rules.”

Customer: “Come on, just a little one? I’ll tip you extra if you do.”

Me: “I’m sorry; I can’t. You might get hurt.”

Customer: “But it’s so slow.”

(I walk around to the fender of the tractor, and I point to a sticker that says “DANGER: Riders can fall off and be killed or seriously injured.”)

Me: “Sir, can you please read that for me?”

Customer: “’Danger: riders can fall off and be killed or seriously injured.’”

Me: “That’s why I can’t give you a ride.”

Customer: “I’ll hold on!”

Me: “What if you lose your grip?”

Customer: “Where’s your boss?!”

Me: “He’s inside the store.”

(The customer storms off to the store while I help other customers. A short time later, the customer and my boss walk out to where I am.)

Boss: “Hey, [My Name]. Can you come over here, please?”

Me: “Sure.” *I walk over to him and the customer*

Boss: “This customer tells me you won’t help him.”

Me: “I told him that I won’t give him a ride on the tractor, but I’ll be more than happy to pick up his tomatoes.”

Boss: “Okay, I just wanted to clear that up.” *turns to customer* “Sorry, but we can’t give customers rides. It’s not safe.”

Customer: “But it’s so far!”

Boss: “Again, [My Name] will be more than happy to help you.”

Customer: “What kind of a place is this?! You people are stupid!”

Boss: “Where do you work?”

Customer: “I work at [Construction Company].”

Boss: “Would you let your kids play with a backhoe?”

Customer: “No, that’s dangerous!”

Boss: “Yeah, go figure.”

Customer: “But this is different!”

Pumpkin Season Finally Turned Deadly

, , , | Healthy | December 10, 2017

(I am working at a pumpkin patch and we have to move the rotting pumpkins to a huge garbage bin. I and two coworkers have the pumpkins in a ranger, a huge garbage bin, and are throwing them into the dumpster. [Coworker #1] throws the pumpkin and it hits [Coworker #2] on the head, like, smack dab in the middle of the head.)

Coworker #1: “OH, MY GOD, ARE YOU OKAY?!”

Coworker #2: “Yeah, I blacked out for a bit but I’m fine.”

Me: “Oh, god, hold on; let me get someone!”

Coworker #2: “I’m fine; I’ve had a concussion before I know the drill. Let’s finish this!”

Me: “What? No, I need to get someone! You said you blacked out!”

Coworker #2: “It’s fine; I’ll have my sister wake me up every few hours.”

Coworker #1: “She says she’s fine. I didn’t mean to hit her anyway.”

(Against my better judgment, we finished the pumpkins and all signed out and went home. [Coworker #1] called in the next day and I saw she posted on her FB wall she was in the hospital with, guess what? A concussion!)

“Breeding Like Rabbits” Suddenly Got Delicious

, , , , | Friendly | September 4, 2017

(I am telling my friend about morning chores at the farm where I volunteer. He hasn’t been there in a year.)

Me: “After I feed the ducks and fill their pool, I milk the goat. Then, right before I’m done, I check the rabbit pen for eggs.”

Friend: “Umm, [My Name]…”

Me: “Oh, right. Long story, but Tracy the chicken lives with the rabbits.”

Burning The Midnight Lube

, , , | Working | August 17, 2017

(I work at a big farm in Romania. My boss is French but he’s been living here for about 20 years, so he speaks Romanian. As we are a rather large, we also have an irrigation system that usually works non-stop. This particular night, one of the pipes that supplies water for our irrigation system doesn’t work. The pipe is owned by a different company. The following conversation happens between my boss and the executive of the said company, at midnight.)

Boss: “Hi, we have a problem with the pipe [reference] for the fields [reference], and—”

Executive: “It’s midnight. I don’t know what you are doing in France at this hour, but here we f*** our wives!” *hangs up*

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