I had just left golf class, yes I said golf class, I failed my freshman year physical education class because my teacher believe that the crutches that carried my crumbling body every day for months, were bogus. So, here I am taking a college golf class from 4:30 to 5:30 my senior year of high school 2 times a week. But this is beside the point, the point is that there was lettuce everywhere. A street had been blocked off and people scattered and rushed back and forth to save whatever produce they could as cars in the passing lane slowed to see the green amongst the concrete. These people struggled to move hundreds of lettuce heads away from the dirty sidewalk while others stood back and watched the flock work. My friend Jeannette and I did not think before we put our bags down and started to help these people clear the street. Illuminated by white street lamps and fighting the cold; we lugged boxes of lettuce across the street. When what could be saved was put down, all that was left was desolate pieces of iceberg lettuce among the dirt. A lady thanked me for helping and asked to take my picture for her newspaper but I was so out of it, I didn’t even see the flash. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of the hundreds of boxes that laid before me. The same lady explained,”I was driving behind the truck when it turned, all I saw was the pallets falling off the truck, boxes and lettuce falling in the street, all ruined.” She sighed as she looked at the large truck,”What a shame.”
And it was one, hours upon hours of work, long days and even darker nights. Field workers straining to make ends meet, packed into hundreds of boxes and just like that, it was all gone. Hours away from home and hours commuting for every new harvest and so many goodbyes told just to pack up a truck that would crumble as gravity fed.The cop told us that it was all unsellable, that they would hopefully donate it to a homeless shelter, what was still intact and good. To think, these shelters would only be fed because of the damage their food took. The good stuff, thousands of lettuce packages worthless now but would feed the hungry because those who could pay would not buy it. It broke my heart but I kept silent and when they offered me some boxes to take home I thanked them. Thinking of my mom, the way she likes her salad with the dressing on the side and golden croutons. Giving me one of her secret looks as she sipped at her glass of ice water. I thought of this as me and my friend walked away, of her long hours at a company just like this one, one of the many behind the produce. The woman that made sure the trucks got home. I thought of the last time I got to have a real conversation with her or how she said she would be working late or stressed about something new at work. I thought about all of my mom’s hard work on the truck, then caught in the wind, then among the dirt. When I called her from outside the gas station next door, I cried. I explained and I felt so stupid for crying but she understood because sometimes the small things that others deem as worthless hold more value than imagined. But, in the end, it was just lettuce.