Cuttings

An Unexpected Compliment

ILLUSTRATION BY LINDA COOK DEVONA

It was Saturday and I was standing at the Burpee seed rack in a local big box store. I’m retired now, but I spent 35 years in the seed business, 29 of them with Burpee. I still enjoy poring over a seed rack.The store greeter, a pleasant-looking lady past middle age, walked over to me.

“I always liked Burpee Seeds,” she said. “I even worked for Burpee down in Southern California years ago.”

“Oh,” I said. “What did you do there?” I didn’t recognize her.

“I worked on the machines that filled the seed packets. They were terrible machines, always breaking down.”

“That must have been aggravating.”

“It was, and when our deparment supervisor couldn’t fix a machine, he had to call our plant superintendent—he was the only one who could get those crazy machines running again. My supervisor said that man would sometimes come back and work until midnight to make sure a machine was working right.”

“That’s real dedication,” I said.

“Everyone liked him and said he was a good boss. He eventually became the manager there. I can’t remember his name, though.”

I headed off to get the building supplies I’d come for. On the way out, I ran into the lady greeter again.

“I just remembered his name,” she said, “The nice man who used to fix the machines at Burpee.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. It was Gerald. Gerald Burke.”

I smiled all the way to my car.

By Gerald Burke of Atascadero, CA.


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