My buddy Alex
Fanni, Ella and I were in the greenhouse on Friday afternoon, seeding some lettuce heads, when we were approached by this dude.
“Who are you guys?”
“What farm are you with?”
From this early juncture, it was obvious that this was a special dude, and I had an immediate soft spot for him. I jumped into our schpeel — we’re a cooperative farm; we’ve pooled our resources and time together, bought 35 acres, yada yada yada.
He informed us, with endearing and slightly off-putting bluntness, that he would like to work for us. The university was shutting down for the summer; his dining services position would be on hold, and he needed some summer work.
I got into some details about worker share options, to farm in exchange for veggies, eventually making it around to our lunch share option, when his eyes lit up a bit.
“So yeah, we are looking for someone to cook meals for us a couple days a week, in exchange for a CSA share. You think you could cook for like 20 people?”
“20 people? That’s easy.”
“Sweet man. And we’re looking for someone who can cook up a lot of the vegetables we’re growing through the season, and make something awesome for us out of them.”
“That sounds like a playground for me.”
There was an indefinable hilariousness in the interaction, crystalizing only when he informed us that he is still in high school. I shot him a quick email and told him to get in touch.
And he did, later that evening, leaving a lengthy voicemail and calling three more times in rapid succession. By the third call I broke down and answered, in spite of my 100% certainty that I’d never actually given him my number. He was motivated, and we were in it for the long haul.
“…Yeah dude, how about I just call you tomorrow once we have our plan, and we’ll get you a ride out to the farm.”
“Oh, you will give me a ride? I think my mom was planning on coming too, so she could see it. So, is there going to be an interview or something?”
“No man, just come out; we’ll just do some work and go from there. Like I said, I’ll give you a call in the morning and let you know…”
“Yeah about that lunch thing. I’m a little nervous, because I’ve never been the head chef of a kitchen before…”
I almost laughed out loud. “Don’t worry about it man. Like I said, I’ll give you a call in the morning and we’ll make a plan. Sound good? Okay, bye.”
I hung up, putting the matter our of my mind all but entirely. He, however, did not, and his mom informed me the next morning that he’d told her that he’d found his “dream job.” Poor guy probably didn’t get any sleep, basking in the vast possibility of this new opportunity.
His dream was interrupted, however, by the reality that is Rising Sand Organics. We pulled in and parked by our unruly, overflowing, stinky compost heap. Logan Brice was by the granary, getting the string trimmer fired up.
“Yo Louie, you get any gas for this?”
“Yep, it’s in granary center, I think… Yeah, it’s here. Okay, I need to find a rag to clean up Danny’s car. Hmm…”
The scene was clearly a bit unsettling to my new buddy Alex, and he tried to formulate his thoughts as I buzzed past repeatedly in search of a dirty rag.
“It seems like everything is just sort of… you guys aren’t very organized, are you?”
“Well dude, you have to remember that we only moved in here last year. Here, come help me grab this roll of drip line.”
“So is there a building out here that has a kitchen or something?” He eyed the premise skeptically.
“Well, first we need plumbing and all of that, so for now we all just cook from home and bring it in. That’s what you’ll be doing if you do the lunch share. Wanna help me grab this quick?”
The crack in his expectations was widening by the second. We hoisted a huge roll of leftover drip tape to the head of the plots, and started to unroll, finding loose ends spilling out in every direction; tangled in a knot of disaster. The crack had now spiderwebbed throughout the windshield of his dream.
“Whose idea was it to roll this up like this?”
It had been mine. “Well dude, there’s really no good was to store this stuff, and we had to use what we had. It was probably as good of a way as any…”
Oren ambled over amicably.
“Well, whaddya think?”
“I thought it was going to be more like… gardening.”
“What do you think we’re doing man?” I couldn’t help but chime in.
So we untangled – one half-turn at a time. It was an arduous, inconvenient, and seemingly unending task, carried out in the cold drizzle. His expectation had now shattered, and I eyed his dejected form sympathetically. About halfway through, however, we’d started to unearth some drip tape, and eventually the first strands came loose from the bundle. “Lee, you’re free.”
I grabbed the end and bounded through the clover field triumphantly, dragging a long tail of drip lines to their seasonal freedom. Strand by strand, we untangled the rest of the mass, laying out a nice stretch of lines for starting our irrigation. By the end, Alex was obviously enjoying himself at least a tiny bit.
“Well,” concluded Oren, “we have two options. We could grab another roll like this and untangle, or we could do some hoeing.”
“I think I’d rather do the hoeing.” responded Alex immediately.
So my buddy Alex found himself confined in a hoophouse with five of the RSO finest, riding out conversations from lactose intolerance to the creation of a nuclear fusion machine. This often senseless banter continued through lunch, where we explored the conversion or diversion from Pre-Yups to Yuppies, from our stained table in the disastrous workshop. After that, we started some bed prep and got him filling compost buckets from the heap, and even driving the Gator a little bit. At some point, a car pulled in and we exchanged a wave as he climbed into the passengers’ seat and rode off. Just like that, my buddy Alex was gone.
“Man.” I exchanged a glance with Kelly. “What do you think he’s saying to his mom right now?”
“I was just wondering the same thing…”
The honest truth is that I don’t think we’ll see Alex out at Rising Sand Organics again for a while. But hey, the dude showed up, he worked, he conversed, and he saw us and our operation for what it is. And isn’t. I sincerely hope it was worth his time; I really do. Most of all, though, I just hope he calls me again. He’s my buddy.