King Corn

My first job was pulling tassels off of male corn stalks in Blenheim, Ontario in the blazing summer sun of 1985. Back then, there were no regulators wandering the fields, making sure the children of the corn were dressed properly and well hydrated. Check out this article to see how easy the kids have it today. There was no fancy orange hat for this detassler.. all I got were sunburned ears.

And fired. On day four. My crime? Singing in the fields. Apparently, I was fixing to be the next Norma Rae with my socialist ways, singing You’re Only Human (how ironic) while we desexed the corn. I remember the “supervisor,” a neighbourhood kid two years my senior telling me on the bus on the way home that the guy in the white hat (presumably the farmer) said I was fired. My witty rejoinder was classic: “tell the guy in the white hat I quit.” I made it all the way home to my bedroom before I burst into tears. Honestly, I had no idea who Norma Rae was when I was 14. What’s wrong with singing in the fields?

That fateful event could have taught me I wasn’t supposed to have fun at work, that my job was to slip under the yoke, keep my mouth shut, do as I was told, pull. We’re so impressionable at 14.

Every day I thank humanity that I didn’t learn that lesson.