Let me tell you about Highpockets. One unbearably hot and humid summer, when my regular farm market was closed, I still needed a job, so I worked at a farm stand up the way. This one was surrounded by marshy fields of high weeds. I was in the outdoor stand with the chikee roof, that sat down in a hollow off the road, alone. It was off-season and all the snowbirds had flown north.

This man used to come in all the time. And every time, he’d complain about the prices. Then, a day later, he’d come back and want to return what he’d bought, usually a melon, uncut, saying it was rotten. Then he started coming into the other farm market, the one where I worked every winter. He’d buy vegetables, fruit, and, yes, the usual melon. Consistently, he’d come back the next day or the day after and want to return the melon saying it was rotten.

My boss, Brad, got tired of it and, after the way this man, of medium build, wore his pants, the waistband hiked up to his ears, started calling him Highpockets. I knew our produce was high quality and had been picked fresh, right there, off the farm. I remembered nearly every item that went out of that store, when it went out, what it looked like when it went out and who took it out. Yet, often people would come back with a carton of strawberries declaring, “Just look at these! They’re all mushy and rotten.” I know how long fresh strawberries hold up, and how to keep them fresh. These invariably looked like they’d been riding around in a car trunk since the night before, in baking sun and humidity, secured in a sweaty plastic bag, with a bag of supermarket canned goods stashed on top.

Brad, always the Southern gentleman, inclined to the thought that the customer is always right, finally had had enough of Highpockets. One day Highpockets brought back one too many melons. Brad said, “Get out! Get out! Get out now and stay out!” Incredulous, Highpockets decreed he would tell some lawyer or something. I feared that one day he’d show up, but he never came back.

–Carolina Gringo
as told to Samantha Mozart

8 Responses to Highpockets

  1. susan scott says:

    The customer is not always right as fully evidenced by this post Samantha! Is this yours or Carolina Gringo’s story? I think it is yours? As you say people came back year after year in appreciation of the lovely produce …

    • sammozart says:

      I know who wrote this story can be confusing, Susan. To simplify, hopefully, when I worked at the farm market, my Mexican coworkers called me Carolina, rather than simply Carol. And, city slicker that I am, I was a gringo on that farm. So, I called myself Carolina Gringo, as I in other writing circumstances and for the purposes of this blog, am Samantha Mozart. So, stories within stories, as it were, Samantha Mozart is composing these stories as told to her from Carolina Gringo’s experiences. I hope this makes sense. I debated whether to approach the storytelling this way, but it’s fun, and if J.K. Rowling can use numerous noms de plume, I figured so can I. Thank you for coming by, as always. 🙂

  2. Hi Sam – I can believe that happening … people are so unfair – probably not Highpockets – he just wasn’t quite right … but others who don’t appreciate the work that’s gone into producing fresh produce – I think I’d have taken Highpockets down to pick his own … but the others … I’d be grateful if they never turned up again – cheers Hilary

    • sammozart says:

      Hi Hilary — Highpockets provided a source of amusement for us (when he wasn’t in the store), and, yes, there were others who didn’t appreciate the work, and I have stories about them. Highpockets could have picked his own strawberries, but I don’t recall that he ever did. We didn’t offer U-pic melons, though. Most of the customers were wonderful, thankfully — gave me recipes accompanied by samples. They’d return year after year. I enjoyed hearing about their lives. It was fun. And, thank you for returning here. 🙂 Cheers! Sam.

      • Hi Sam – no I guessed that … but if one took him down to pick his own melon once … then he couldn’t return it! Could he as he’d picked and selected it … but sounds like you had a wonderful experience working there though … cheers Hilary

  3. Robert Price says:

    Yes, sometimes you must tell them to get out and stay out.