19 Feb poppy seed salesboy
recently I started a new side job editing a collection of poetry. it’s something that I never would have guessed I’d be doing professionally. first, I can’t say I know that much about poetry. second, I’ve never edited a collection of anyone else’s work. but after my friend read part of “Found in Kitsap”, she decide that my sensibility was a good match for her project. I was honored that she’d pick me and excited for the new creative challenge. it’s been an interesting and tough project, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it might lead in the future.
but I’m not writing about that today, rather this new gig got me thinking about all the odd jobs I’ve held over the years. I’ve done about every sort of low-skilled entry-level work possible, at least outside of manufacturing. I’ve cooked and cleaned, delivered and demolished, answered phones and entered data… and that just barely scratches the surface. it’s going to be fun telling y’all about the random ways I’ve earned money over the years…
for now, let’s start with my first ever gig, way back in 1987.
as long as I can remember, my Mom has always had a beautiful garden. for a while, one section of this was full of poppies. for an eight year old boy, the dead and dried poppies were pretty fun. they rattle and if you break them open and there’s something inside.
like picking a scab, or popping bubble wrap – cause and effect is a fun game. pull the scab– see the blood. squeeze the bubble– hear the bang. crack open the poppy– get a cascade of seeds. yes, just like on a poppy-seed muffin. inside each flower are dozens of small black seeds.
as a kid living in semi-rural Kitsap County, I was familiar with seeds. my folks would buy packages of vegetable and flower seeds. I knew that seeds, even in small quantities were worth money. and here, I had a back yard FULL of seeds, just sitting there. it was like money, just sitting in the ground.
the next step was pretty logical, I was going to go into business for myself. first, I harvested the seeds, then portioned them out into sandwich bags. now that I had my product, I needed to find my customers. so, I took my business on the road. that is, I went door-to-door in my neighborhood and sold the little bags of seeds. for the very reasonable rate of 50 cents you could have the makings of your very own poppy garden.
I think I sold a few dollars worth. enough that it felt like a worthwhile venture, but not enough that I tried to sell them outside of my neighborhood. there wasn’t much in the way of repeat customers, after you had seeds, why did you need more? so the venture was a limited run operation.
looking back on it now, I wonder how many people planted the seeds? I’d like think that somewhere in the neighborhood, there’s a little patch of wild poppies still growing. but if none ever made it to flower, that’s okay too. my guess is people didn’t buy the seeds to plant – people bought the seeds to indulge a precocious eight year old. the sort who had the gumption to showed up at their door unannounced and full of enthusiasm… kind of like a poppy.
p.s. I’m going tag all these stories with “Jobs I’ve had” – so if you want to read the collection, click on that link above.