The 9 Stages of Carrot Weeding

Stage 1: Denial

You look over the plot. It looks like turf. There’s no way… You walk down the middle path; stop, gaze, and shake your head in disbelief. It’s not worth it… You squat down and take a closer look. The first glance reveals no carrots, but upon a light splitting of the grasses, a tiny two-leader carrot reveals itself. Then another. You look out again over the turf. Fuuuuck… There has to be another way. You trial a shuffle hoe. A diamond hoe. A precision hoe. There is no other way.

Stage 2: Calibration

Starting in the corner of bed 1, you identify the outside row, then the middle row, and get to it. It’s slow at first, unfamiliar. Gradually, your hands warm up, and you flow into the carrot weeding machine every organic farmer is destined to become.

Stage 3: Optimism

You calibrate fully, and start to cruise. Hands and knees, you deftly carve out one section, crawl forth, and do another. As you flow, you begin to feel like this task may just yet be attainable, and you set your intention on finishing this plot, and shuffle hoeing an additional plot in the evening.

Stage 4: Determination

At some point, you look up. You look forward, at the remaining section of unweeded bed, then back, at your progress. Something doesn’t seem right. You look again. I thought I’d be farther than this by now… You maintain your objective, and dive into a deeper state of focus and intention. I will finish this bed before lunch.

Stage 5: Acceptance

You don’t finish that bed before lunch. You don’t even, it seems, get any closer than you’d been when the declaration was made. This can’t be happening. It is. Carrot weeding is your destiny. You will not finish this plot today. You may not even come close. You don’t even like carrots that much. This is your destiny.

Stage 6: Silent Dejection

You don’t look up. You don’t talk. You don’t care. You are leaving in two and a half hours regardless of the status of these carrots.

Stage 7: Anger.

You become vocal again, but you’re not the same person you were, say, at the Determination stage, much less the Optimism stage. You chuckle humorlessly at the wry irony of your situation. You express your disbelief repeatedly, through terms no more creative than, “I can’t believe this...” You care little for the emotional status of those around you. You say negative things about everybody you’ve ever known. Aggressive, but passively so. (“Heh, Oren really knows how to get out of work, huh?..”) You have become a monster.

Many never make it to Stage 7. it requires a level of fortitude and grit simply unattainable to some. Take, for example, Oren. After popping in and weeding for a handful of seconds in the early afternoon, he flitted off to “check the moisture content” of the hay he’d finished crimping 15 minutes ago. Later in the evening, he’d stopped by again, declaring, “I’m going to leave when this bed is finished.” As he got up to leave minutes later, I remarked on the unfinished status of said bed. “Yeah, well, I really have to get this tire to Fleet Farm, and I just did something to my hand.” He drove away minutes later, forgetting the all-important tire. I passed silently into Stage 8.

Stage 8: Numbness

You perceive yourself moving, but have somehow ceased to exist. You are aware of the continued activity of your hands, but are somehow no longer weeding carrots. The task has become pointless, and the futility of your life imminent. The quality of your work has diminished substantially. You crawl forth. Your wrists are creaky door hinges; your knees rusty springs. You may or may not have reached a morbid state of enlightenment. You are done. The plot is not finished. You have not come against any time barrier – artificial or otherwise. You have made no decision; you are not quitting. You are simply unable to continue weeding carrots. Or whatever the activity has become. You get stuck halfway between a kneel and a stand. It’s over.

Stage 9: Sugar

You stop at Kwik Trip “because you need to fuel up.” It’s a lie you don’t even tell yourself this time. The ice cream is a given. Ben and Jerry’s “Cherry Garcia” just seems right. You ponder the donut momentarily. Ice cream is later; donut is now. But it’s late, and the pickings are slim. You settle on an old, plastic-wrapped Long John filled with white cream. On returning to the car, you fiendishly rip open the plastic, and engorge the phallic monstrosity. The white cream, sickeningly sweet, somehow restores a small fragment of your humanity, which is good, because you will need it by the time you get home. You decide not to tell anybody about the donut.

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