Tale of Aggressive Toil

by bernquist

He was a tattered and worn down soul. Not much to look at to be sure. Nothing like the era of his youth when times were easy, the grass was greener, and people were just all around more laid back. As cliche as it is to say, those really were the good old days. Lately though, it had been rough, excruciatingly so. He was getting older and he knew it. Not just older. Old. His stamina was almost non-existent, his strength a mere shadow of what it once was. But worst of all, his spirit was broken. All those long years of twenty hour consecutive days had shattered him. He no longer had dreams. He knew that his time had passed and that this was the day for the younger and more intellectually agile. At this point, he didn’t even care. There was just nothing left. Today was not much different than any other. He awoke at 4:30 a.m. picked up his supplies and headed off to his work site. Food didn’t agree with him in the mornings; it had been this way for years. So he left without breakfast. It was a nice day – 72 degrees, a few high clouds but nothing threatening. He didn’t even notice the weather. As he meandered down the trail through the corn stalks to the swampland on the other side, he wondered what kind of load would be waiting for him today. Griffith Henderson, his manager, was not an overly abusive man, but he certainly was capable of and often did ask too much of his crew. At the end of the trail near the swamp, Griffith was there waiting for him at 5:15 a.m., just like every morning. But today, the load was massive, probably 2000 lbs or more. He approached Griffith reluctantly, head down, feet shuffling in a weary pattern indicative of a lifetime of strenuous toil. He gazed at Griffith with a sort of apathetic despair as the manager began shoveling the heaping mass of product into the containers. Each additional shoveling was agony. But he had learned to cope. This was his life and there would never be any change. The last cluster plopped into place and he was certain that any more weight and his joints would implode. Finally, as he did every single morning at this time, Griffith shouted out his orders emphatically, “NOW GROVEL!!!! GGGRRROOOOOVVVEEELLLLLL!!!!!!!!” And the rindhorse, carrying 2100 lbs of half-rotted watermelon rinds in the two giant sacks slung over his back, staggered to the center of the swamp and did just that…groveled…for the next twenty hours…