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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

Letter to the Editor
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Working on Gigi's farm: My first job

As a teenager, I have been trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. So, this past summer, I went out in search of a job right as the school year ended. Fourteen denied applications later, I spoke with my friend, fellow junior Gigi Thao, about the situation, and I was soon working for her family on their farm in Sanger.

Although I was thankful and excited for the opportunity, I did not think about the manual labor required of a farmer before I accepted the job. For some high school students, this would not be an issue. However, the last time I was involved in physical activity was last August during cross-country. Though the sport required endurance and strong legs, I did not gain any box-lifting muscles from it. So, on the first night of the job, I could barely lift a crate.

My work began on Fridays from 9 p.m. until 1:30 a.m, where we would load boxes and pack produce. After this, we would drive to Palo Alto in the middle of the night to sell our produce at the farmers market on Saturday from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. While Thao heaved crates out of the truck, I quickly ran to and from our selling stall’s location with the products to ensure everything was ready by 8 a.m. for the market.

Each day in Palo Alto, scores of people passed through the market looking for various vegetables and fruit; some common fruit to Americans, some foreign. Daikon, a Japanese radish, is one of the many unusual products that customers seek at the markets that may be difficult to buy in other areas.

The overall atmosphere of the farmers market was definitely a new experience. Instead of knowing fellow farmers’ names, we knew them only by what they sold. For instance, young adults sold organic food, elderly farmers tended to sell dried fruit and many Hispanics sold bread. Unless we were helping each other distribute and count change, none of us talked to each other.

Before I began the job, I thought that Thao and I would be working together. However, I found myself mainly selling produce at the Palo Alto markets with her mother, whom we all called Mo, where I began to know her on a much deeper level.

Despite all the work the Thao family puts into farming and selling their produce, Mo places a greater emphasis on education. She wants her children to take school seriously so that they will not need to work on the grueling farm for the rest of their lives. Through working at the same stall, we learned more about each other day-by-day.

One month into the life of a farmer, I reached the most difficult part of my job: tomato season. We sell over 13 different varieties of tomato. While the little ones are dense and extremely heavy in their crates, heirloom tomatoes are delicate and squish very easily. Special boxes that would only fit one layer were used for these, but needed to be stacked to bring the right amount and therefore smashed the bottom layers.

One day, while selling these annoying tomatoes, there was an obnoxious lady who pushed people out of her way in order to get to the perfect purchasing spot for tomatoes. Since I had only gotten a few hours of sleep the night before, I was already irritable.

To my surprise, the woman yelled out how unripe our tomatoes were. Since we stayed up even later than normal picking the best of the tomatoes the night before, I politely told her that we had just picked them. She then proceeded to pick up a tomato, shove it in my face and tell me how the tomato was a little green on the bottom and that it did not live up to the standards of tomatoes. Despite my irritation, I looked through boxes in the back until I found the kind she wanted.

This was only one of the many customers that felt a sense of entitlement when they bought our products. Though I could have definitely lived without this part of the job, I learned better patience and a greater respect for those who deal with rude customers on a daily basis.

Since I also played in the orchestra at Riverpark Bible Church during the summer, I had a deal with Gigi’s parents that I would not stay for the market on Sunday, but rather work only on Fridays and Saturdays.

As a result, I traveled with a Hmong man who also worked with the Thaos and who needed to go back to Fresno as well. Oddly, I never learned his name. He did not speak much English at all. In fact, the few things he asked me included whether I was hungry, if I was tired, if I wanted a Pepsi and which direction to go.

Every Saturday evening I would go with him, and each time he would buy me a Pepsi. Although the language barrier resulted in getting lost a few times, the trips otherwise went rather smoothly.

At the end of the job, my family and I were very thankful that I was able to learn what hard work truly is. As an added bonus, my family received fresh fruit and vegetables from the Thaos that we were able to enjoy all summer. Through the experience, I grew closer to my friend and her family and learned that manual labor should never be looked down upon or taken for granted.

For more information on summer experiences, read the Aug. 18 article, Oregon Coast: A summer vacation hot spot.

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