Carter Harrington had never dreamed his first day of employment would be so difficult. His mother had found him this job, cleaning the meat department at the local grocery store, and he was glad that he would now be able to help her with some of the bills. But from the moment Carter set foot inside the giant room where the butchers did their work, he felt like an alien visiting a distant planet. The equipment throughout the room had to be disassembled in order to be properly washed with a power-sprayer. And as each one of the butchers explained the proper procedure for their specific machine’s disassembly and proper cleaning, Carter had a hard time taking notes fast enough.
“You sure do look green,” the butcher named Carl said to Carter.
“Green?” Carter asked, wondering why the man who had been introduced to him as The Giant German would describe an African-American as looking green.
“You never heard someone called green before?” the butcher asked, a hefty chuckle following his words. At nearly seven feet tall, it was obvious to Carter why this man was nicknamed The Giant German.
“No, sir, I haven’t. What do you mean I look green?”
After offering up a hearty laugh, the man said, “Well, you know how a banana is green when it starts out and turns yellow as it begins to ripen?”
“Yeah, of course I know that!” Carter said, trying to fend off any ridicule the butcher might be offering.
“Well that’s what I meant by saying you look green. You look like you’re just starting off…which of course, you are. But, everyone’s gotta’ start somewhere, right? Who got you the job here?”
“My mom did,” Carter said. “She knows the store manager.” Feeling like he needed to elaborate, he added, “She’s a single parent and I really want to be able to help her with some of the bills she has to pay, you know what I mean? I want to do my part, after all she’s done for me.”
“A very respectable plan you have. But you know, many meat department clean-ups have come and gone here over the past three years. I think the number of casualties is somewhere around 27 or more. What makes you think you’ll make the transition from green to ripe?”
Carter thought about the man’s question for a few seconds and then remembered a verse from the Bible that his mother quoted for him. “My mom always told me, ‘Do whatever you do with all you’re heart as work for the Lord and not as work for men.’ She said that’s in the Bible.”
“Your mom sounds like a very good woman. And if I may offer a bit of advice; tackle your work one victory at a time. You have seven machines to break apart, clean, and reassemble. Finish one before you even think about the next one. Go about your work like that and you’ll lose that green in no time.”
“Have a good night,” Carter told the man as he left the cutting room. Carter looked at the large meat grinder against the rear wall and then back at his notes. Grabbing the large wrench he needed to take apart the shafts of the machine, he said, “Time to ripen up!”
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