Monday, June 15, 2009

The Economy and I

For the most part, that vague but enormous entity called The Economy has always passed me by. When I was a child, we were always poor no matter what The Economy was like. When I left home to teach school, I made what seemed like lots of money, but it always kind of disappeared, mostly to my folks, to whom we gave our wages until we were 21 in the Amish tradition, a whole other story.

Now I read that there was a terrible recession on during those first years away from home, but all I know is that I had a full-time job and a place to live and a car to drive, and at 19 I bought my first-ever new coat from a store and felt wealthy, and sometimes I splurged on 2-liter bottles of Diet 7up.

The economic winds have come and gone since then, and most of the time they don't affect me much. I hunt down garage sales in good times and bad. We do without until we can pay cash no matter how many furniture ads scream in our faces that we can buy this now with no payments for six months. We have always had a cushion of family and church in case of disaster.

But there's one way in which we feel the economic winds blowing, and that's with hiring seedsackers. A few years ago, Paul was scratching and scrambling for workers, as green employment pastures were wide open and it didn't take much to persuade a young man not to sack seed. Paul ended up filling one position with a shady character named Jim who was on probation and ended up in jail one weekend when he hung out with a convicted felon. And we think he took Paul's grandpa's old gun with him when he left.

This year was very different. Paul could have filled every position several times over with strong and upstanding young men. We got phone calls asking us to please consider someone; dads and moms asked us if we had work for their sons. We already had our crew: Felipe, who's been with us for over a year; Ben; Steven; my nephew Keith; and Matt driving forklift now and then, but we tried to pass these other names along to other farmers and cleaners who might need to fill one more position.

Then something happened in the last few days that makes me wonder if The Economy pendulum is swinging back: Felipe was offered a better job at Pennington Seed. Fulltime, with much better benefits than we can give him. And he really wanted to switch, immediately.

In a normal year, Paul would panic, as much as Paul would panic of course, at his night guy wanting to leave just a few weeks before harvest. But The Economy still is what it is, and Felipe had a friend waiting in the wings. Humberto showed up early for his interview and was promptly hired and sacked 13 tons of oats in 8 hours, out of sheer gratitude, I am sure, because he is married with a family and has been out of work for several months.

I feel sorry for people who are devastated by The Economy but I'm afraid I can't empathize.

Quote of the Day:
"It looked tired."
Steven, explaining why he brought a bee inside and was gently trying to feed it honey


  1. I can't relate either....thank goodness...or, perhaps I should say, "Thank God!". We had a slow-down in our business last year as we shifted clients. But my husband, who, after years of working 70-hour weeks when our daughter was young, isn't going to compromise and NOT work from home now that our son is here. So, when the guy who has been offering him a job for many years called and said, "Will you do it if you can work from home?" My husband finally said "When do I start?". No matter whether you own your own company or you work for someone else, it is always GOD who is our provider, and He hasn't left us starving, or even homeless!!, yet. But even if He did, He would still be God and still be our provider.

  2. be grateful. i would trade in a heartbeat.... my entire life has been filled with touch and go making ends meet, not having a church to rely on. i can't imagine not having to constantly worry about how to pay the bills that don't stop when the job does.... having the wolf outside the door is very very grateful

  3. "Humberto... was promptly hired and sacked..."

    I was stopped short by shock of Humberto being such a horrible worker that you would hire and sack him in one smooth motion.

    I read that portion of the sentence several times quickly, but then moved on to tack on the context, "Humberto... was promptly hired and sacked... out of sheer gratitude..." Huh? Now I was really confused. I read the whole sentence *slowly* and finally realized the combo of active ("sacked") and passive ("was hired") tenses (is that grammatically legal?) combined to throw me for a loop.

    Thanks for a good laugh!

    What follows is a result of my curiosity about grammar, not (I hope) an overly nitpicky correction.

    Normally "was" + compound (past participle) verb = compound passive verb. I believe (as do my fellow grammar geeks at Golden Rule) that you need to restate the subject to make that second verb active. For instance, "Humberto showed up early for his interview, was promptly hired, and he sacked..." Even better would be to simply start a new sentence: "Humberto showed up early for his interview and was promptly hired. He then sacked..."

  4. Thanks, Hans. This is what comes of rattling on without thinking about how it sounds. Who knew that there are people who hear "sacked" and think "fired" instead of "put grain in sacks"?? And I hadn't thought of the series of verbs not being consistent re: active/passive. Always something to learn.