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Talking to a Radish

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0


I read a long time ago that there was some merit to talking to plants. Supposedly the plants were happier and grew better, faster, stronger. Some people played music to their plants, Mozart worked best, other people just talked to their plants on a daily basis. I gave it an honest go. The tomatoes I spoke to seemed to be bigger than the ones left on their own. Both sets got the same amount of water and fertilizer and sunlight.

Three years ago I started working with a woman who closely resembles a radish. She has a wide bland face devoid of most emotions. She comes in early to milk the clock, spending an hour looking at her fingernails while she charges our employer. Even if the phone rings she won't answer it. Why does he put up with it? The contract owner explained to me once how the mother of this vegetable did him a fine favor when she worked for him. Mother Radish, ran the whole post office for a number of days by herself when the Post Master's wife passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. The event had been so numbing, so shocking, he was eternally grateful to Mother Radish.

Let me qualify that Mother Radish didn't act like a vegetable. She had been an active woman who was friendly and helpful to me when I first starting working at the Post Office. Mother Radish passed many a pleasant hour with me making conversation while we were stuffing mail. Back then the mail came unsorted and it took longer to put up. The children of Mother Radish, I'll call them Dopey and Lucky, are not smart. Dopey, still stands in front of the sorting table spending an hour sorting mail that comes in numeric order. I guess it was what she was trained to do, though I see it as a complete waste of time. For myself I pull it straight out of the bin and put straight up. It saves me half an hour a day over the time it takes Dopey to put her mail up.

Lucky is both younger and stupider than Dopey. At 28 she has never driven a car, opened a bank account, answered a phone or helped a customer. She is neither autistic nor retarded so far as I know. She just has life skills zero. If she understood her mother was sick when her mother was stricken with cancer, she certainly never let on. If asked point blank how her mother was she wouldn't answer. Her demeanor did not change before nor after the death. She continued to show up an hour before our driver delivered the mail, the milk the clock. Even if mail remained from the day before, third class stuff like newpapers or ads, she wouldn't put it up in the boxes. She does nothing until the driver arrives.

I had decided there was little point in speaking to this radish. She had never responded to my attempts at conversation the first nine months we worked together. Today, however, I was forced to speak to her. I was on the phone, when I noticed a customer hovering by the door. Despite the fact that we were clearly closed, the customer remained, attempting to make eye contact with me and interrupt the phone conversation. I went in the office so that I could concentrate on what I was hearing over the phone. Lucky of course could have helped the man if she were willing to acknowledge him.

Although normally I ignore her for her mother's sake, I started to feel enraged as I realized she was not going to do anything, not even as simple as telling the guy we were closed. After all, I'm not her supervisor, I'm not paid any more than she is, so why should I have to man the phones, put up the mail and answer customers in person while she stood there stupidly doing nothing? I don't usually let my emotions effect me to that degree. I surprised myself by my level of anger. I would have thought it was her making me angry, except I knew the anger represented an unmet need inside of myself. I could prove to myself it wasn't her per se, because I wasn't angry at other times by her cow like existence. We'd worked together for years and she had never done anything before, why today, why did I feel so annoyed? I realized I needed support from her. It is a two person job, that's why we were both hired. I felt I had no choice except to speak to her, regardless of the fact that she would not respond.

It's like talking to a radish I told myself. The plants never talked back either. Lord only knows what rolls around in the empty head of hers. According to her mother, after graduating high school, this girl sits around watching a lot of TV. She surfs the internet too. Of course without a bank account, she can't buy stuff online. I certainly never delivered any mail to her except NetFlix. She can however fill up time with on-line games according to her mother. So I can assume her hearing is intact, even though she does not acknowledge me.

I told her succinctly this morning we were being paid the same amount to do the same job and that it was absurd of her to ignore people. She looked up at me while I was speaking, an odd bovine look on her blank face. She did not acknowledge my speech. She did not apologize for her lax work habits. She did however cuss less than usually under her breath. Normally when she finds a box that is too full to receive more mail, like an idiot she continues to stuff more in, to no avail. She cusses under her breath, while attempting to stuff the mail in. Despite this being a daily occurrence she still tries. The spatial relationship is lost on her.


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