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Category: Tales from the Co-op

13 years at one job computes to a crap ton of stories.

The Funeral of Joe Woods

Deep breath. Where do I begin? “Begin at the beginning,” the King said gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” ~Lewis Carrol, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  I will apologize in advance to my long time readers, for I will have to repeat stories most of you all have heard before to get this all told. So let me begin by introducing you to Joe Woods. This is a little piece I wrote on him a couple of years ago for the store’s Facebook page. It paints a more descriptive picture than his concise obituary (not that there’s anything wrong with his obituary, the family is grieving and has their hands full) MEET YOUR CO-OP!! This week is the 3rd edition, & we couldn’t pick a more iconic figure than Joe Woods. I sat down with Joe around 10:30 this morning. Well, “cornered” would be a more appropriate term. He is always in high demand. I was able to extract some facts about his life over the next 45 minutes, between customers stopping by to chat and tell him how good it is to see him. Joe was born & raised in West Tennessee, not the land of milk & honey, but of cotton & pit barbeque. Joe has never been satisfied with what passes for barbeque on this end of the state. He graduated high school in 1944, and was…

Spring

​This is the first time in many years the thought of spring doesn’t fill me with dread.  Spring doesn’t mean EXACTLY the same thing in Co-op circles as it means for most people.  For the majority, spring means warmer weather, maybe thinking about planting a garden, or putting in a pool, going to the lake, planning barbeques.  Spring at the Co-op means an absolute onslaught of people, demanding grass and vegetable seeds, fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, you name it. Spring means a season of calves brought in thunderstorms by heifers, the constant nuisance of flies, and the persistant worry of when the rain’s coming-will it be soon enough? Can it hold off till you get this last field spread?  Old men and new farmers haggle over buggies and sprayers and sod drills. They raise Cain that the price of chemicals are cheaper by three dollars the next county over. They gripe and complain about being subjected to “all these changes” and “you about can’t make a livin’ anymore, with you a-robbin’ us blind!”  Yes. Clearly, I’m the one to blame.  There’s the warehouse screaming on the radio to quit sellin’ Kennebec seed potatotes, how many times do they have to tell us we’re out till Houser gets back from Tenco? The phones are ringing with people wanting to know when…

Traditions

Purina Mills​ has been around for over a century. In that time they put on the most informative sales meetings (for companies & feed customers alike) I have ever attended. A few stick out in my mind. One was where they showed a tag for a 12% horse feed. It sounded pretty good from a nutritional percentage standpoint. When you got down to the ingredients they were actually motor oil, cardboard, and a whole host of deadly components that carry protein, fat, and fiber ratios.  Purina sets itself apart from competitors by constantly researching. Their private farm is home to over 3000 animals situated on 1200 acres. Once upon a time, I was attending a training meeting hosted by Purina. This presentation began by telling a story that *I benignly thought* had nothing to do with feeding horses. Seems that there was this woman that was cooking her Christmas ham. Her husband was in the kitchen, underfoot and watching. He noticed she cut a good two inches off each end of the ham. “Why’d you do that for?” he wanted to know. “Do what?” “Cut the perfectly good ends off.” The wife reportedly scrunched her brow. “Well, to tell you the truth, I don’t know. My momma always did it when she fixed the ham.” The ham was pushed into the oven to bake in pork peace. Later, as it was transferred to the table, the woman…

Open House Memories

While there have been stretches I have missed the Co-op ACUTELY, Saturdays are not one of those times. Especially this particular Saturday, the second one of October. Because today, just like the second Saturdays of Octobers for decades past, is Open House. It is madness, pure & simple. Unaltered mayhem & chaos & all of the things I seek to avoid in my quiet existence. There are running kids and raffle ticket bickerers, bargain shoppers and lounging sales reps, dogs (of both hot and furry varieties) and drunks, locals & tourists, friends & competition. There are retired Co-op employees chatting over beef & grain prices, rain or lack thereof with the farmers who tenaciously hang on. The wives eating popcorn while surreptitiously looking at clothes her husband will tell her to buy but hope she doesn’t, their children chasing each other around the racks & down the aisles, a drippy ice cream in one hand & a hot dog smothered in ketchup in the other. I would be there, amongst them, taking pictures, directing them to the bathroom, shouting a price or item number across the store before heading outside to the microphone to award some lucky people a door prize. And hopefully I would be wearing a smile for you. Some of my former co-workers were sweet enough to formally invite me, so I wouldn’t miss the sales & general overall merriment. While I appreciated the gesture, I simultaneously shuddered & laughed…

Blessings Abound

​I hear a lot of people dreading Christmas, hating Christmas, saying the gift giving isn’t what it’s about. And while that’s true, I hope these people realize that getting back to the true meaning of Christmas starts within yourself. I hope that they pick a child off the Angel Tree, or volunteer with a Food Pantry, or some other selfless act. It WILL change your heart.  Last week at work, this couple came up to the counter, inquiring about a discount if they bought several pairs of boots. They said six pairs.  So we offered them the same discount we had on Black Friday, including 50% off our closeouts, which are already marked down.  They bought fourteen pairs. They were at the counter for awhile, as you can imagine, as we were checking sizes & whatnot. They explained what they were doing. They were from North Carolina & it all started four years ago. A few members in their church are teachers & brought up the subject of a few of the underprivledged children in the community. These teachers had an inkling that some students weren’t getting anything to eat over the weekend. They thought the only food these children received was at school. So it came about that the church was making up sack lunches for these kids to take home over the weekend. It wasn’t much, like a can of soup or a sandwich, some…

Purpose Driven Life

We all serve a purpose. For some of us, it’s something dignified, like, you’re the voice of reason in a family crisis. You don’t take sides. Or you’re the one who gives out advice on retirement in your family without having to consult the aloof bank people. Or you’re a healer of sorts, with your special teas and ointments. Whatever it may be.  For ages, people called me when they saw horse loose within a ten mile radius of my house. Everybody knew I had horses because I was forever out front riding them. Those days, for the most part, have passed.  Then came the confusing phone calls from friends who had too much to drink and knew I was home, sober, tight in my bed, because I had a job that required my presence early in the morning. I was the responsible, dependable one for a long time. Then came the calls that I was paid to take, not really expected, mind you, but the ones with true emergencies: car wrecks, fires, seizures. Lord, at the seizures.  I had a friend who called me once, freaking out because her baby was coming early. I was at a loss, no checklist chart in front of me, instead, enjoying a sunny summer afternoon tending my flowerbeds. But I got her through it, talked her down as she drove her panicked self to the hospital.  Not two years…

Co-op Christmas

Our big shindig for the Co-op was last night. We’re a pretty mild sort, but we always manage to have a good time. I really wasn’t sold on going this year, as it was on my day off & I like to hermit up, but J enjoys it more than me. He says we’re “a good crowd”. He doesn’t see everybody daily like I do, so I put our names on the list. Just about everyone always shows up. And we all try to dress up, even if it’s just our best boots, jeans, & a button up or sweater. Last night was no exception.  In the past, we’ve had our picture taken (by yours truly) in front of the Christmas tree wherever we were, played a game, sang a song, or just had general merriment & fellowship. We have had our annual get together in several locations over the years, from the back room at Golden Corral, to Cowboys on the lake, to the Legion building, to River Plantation’s meeting hall, to right here at the Co-op. We’ve been so poor some years that the Christmas dinner has been a potluck. And that’s ok. The food isn’t what’s important. The catching up with your coworkers about non-related Co-op stuff is what counts. And to see their families growing. I remember the year of our renovation; we didn’t really even have a Christmas…

Co-op Compliments

A new white F250 pulls up to the front doors. I get excited like a puppy. “Is that Shannon? Do you think he brought me food?” Shannon is a horse customer of mine who hails from New Orleans. He is an amazing cook of all things Cajun & occasionally brings me treats. “No, he’s wearing a cowboy hat, it’s not Shannon.”  Another one of my regulars comes through the door. “I like your brush guard,” I tell him, then realize how ridiculous this would sound at any other job/ store. So I had to share. You can giggle, ‘s alright…

Entitled?

I don’t understand the concept of entitlement. For example, commending someone for not stealing. Almost every day, someone comes to the counter to pay for some bolts. Some of them can get fairly expensive, as far as bolts go, & it never fails that someone says, “I could’ve stuck these in my pocket, you would have never known.” While that’s true, the Good Lord would know. And it’s wrong. I’m not going to thank you for not stealing. If you’ll steal a bolt, you’ll steal a car. I could set the Co-op on fire, too, but I choose not to do so. It’s wrong. What the heck?! 11-17-15 11:16 am…

Twinkies

Clint & I ordered the same shirts this go round. Not on purpose. I discovered this when he wore his a while back. So this morning, I asked John, who had been upstairs, if we were wearing the same shirt. John carefully looked at me. “Yes, but he’s not wearing that headband.” So I call Clint. “What are you wearing?” “A long sleeved button up shirt.” “Is it the small navy & white check?” “Yes.” “We’re Twinkies. I’ll be up for a photo shoot directly.” Luckily, I had another matching headband, & somehow coerced him into putting it on. Ladies & gentlemen, CEO of Sevier Farmers Coop, & yours truly. p.s. He said the only time anybody wants their picture with him is to make themselves look better. I told him not to worry, it was not a flattering picture of me; my hair’s weird & my face is scrunched up because I was laughing so hard at his Lt. Dan headband…