By Randy Cox
My brother-in-law told me this story about a desperate man, unemployed, with nothing more important to do than polishing apples.
During the Great Depression, a farmer lost his farm to the bank. He had never done anything his whole life but farm, so he had no idea how he was going to make a living. A neighbor told him about a job opportunity in Dallas. The First Baptist Church was looking for a janitor. Janitor, that was something he thought he might do well. He put on a clean pair of overalls, scraped together his last dime and headed for Big D. The bus ride cost him a nickle.
At the church, he was encouraged by the big white sign with red letters. “Help Wanted!” Hat in hand, he entered the church and was sent to an office in the back of the building.
He told the lady interviewing him how he had been a hard working farmer all his life. The lady listened with interest. Finally, she pushed a paper across the desk towards him.
“I think you are exactly the kind of man we are looking for,” she said. “Fill out the application; you can start tomorrow morning.
A look of disappointment crossed the farmer’s face. “I can do any sort of work you need done,” he explained. “I just never learned to read or write!”
“Oh, that will never do,” the lady told him. “There are warning labels to read, directions to follow, and reports to be filled out. I’m sorry!” She took the paper and pencil back and put them in a drawer. “It was so nice to meet you!”
The Farmer stumbled out of the office more desperate now than ever. He was broke, hungry and unemployed. He had no idea of what he was going to do.
He sat on the front steps of the church holding the last nickel to his name. A man with an apple cart wheeled by and the farmer spent his last nickle on an apple. As he sat there trying to find a solution to his problem and contemplate the huge numbers of unemployed people, many of them farmers like himself, he grew sick to his stomach. He forgot about the apple as he searched his mind for ideas that just were not there.
Absentmindedly, he began to polish the apple. The more he thought about it, the worst his situation seemed. “I’ll never find a job!” he decided. “No one wants to hire me!”
Suddenly, he felt a tap on his shoulder.
A well- to- do grey haired lady was standing before him, tapping his shoulder.
“Are you going to eat that apple?” she asked.
He stammered. His mind was occupied elsewhere. He had forgotten about the apple.
“Well,” said the grey haired woman. “That’s the best looking apple I’ve ever seen. I’ll give you a dime for that apple, not a penny more!”
He took the dime and gave her the apple. He went to the Farmer’s Market and bought more apples, polished them, and sold them quickly on the street. It wasn’t long before he had his own apple cart. He added oranges, lemons, limes, and pumpkins in season. Soon he had carts all over the city. He sold so much fruit he was forced to seek new supply sources. He sent trucks to the Valley in South Texas, Florida, and California. Later, he had ships taking American produce all over the world and bringing back exotic foods of all kinds. He was a multi-millionaire many times over.
One day a young lady interviewed him for a story in People Magazine. As he began his tale of riches, she interrupted him in pure astonishment.
“You accomplished all this and you can’t even read or write,” she said. “Can you imagine what you could have done with a proper education?”
“I know exactly what I could have accomplished,” the old farmer said sitting back in his luxurious leather chair. “I’d have been the janitor down at the First Baptist Church.