Long, long ago a pig lived in a house at the edge of a village, and every day he worked in his garden. His was a most magnificent garden, and every year he won awards for producing the finest vegetables in the entire kingdom.
However, after many years of tending his garden in good weather and bad, the pig began to grow tired and discontented. He figured there must be an easier way to make a living. So he shut up his house and set off to find a new and easier way to make money.
Eventually he came to the home of a cat named Thomas, and from the house rang out the sweetest music. The Discontented Pig marvelled as Thomas expertly played his violin. “Surely this must be easier than tending a garden” thought the pig and he asked Thomas to teach him to play the violin.
Thomas handed the pig a violin and bow and showed him how to play. But when the pig began to play the music was terrible…more like the sounds of bleating pigs than the sweet lullabies of Thomas. “this is terrible” cried the pig. “I thought you would teach me to play!”
“And that I will” replied Thomas, “but mastering the violin takes many years of practise and hard work.”
“Then I think I’ll look for something else”, answered the pig, “because this is as hard as weeding my garden.”
And so the pig set off down the road again, until he came to a house where there lived a dog who made cheese. “This may be just what I’m looking for” thought Pig. “After all, I love to eat and I could make the most delicious cheeses both for myself and to sell.” So he asked if the dog would teach him to make cheese.
“That I will” agreed the dog, and the two set about making cheese. But turning and kneading the cheese was hot and thirsty work, and after a while the discontented pig stopped for a rest.
“You can’t stop now” cried the dog. “The cheese will spoil. There can be no resting until the job is finished.”
“This is just as hard as growing vegetables” answered the pig. “I need to find something easier.”
And so he set off down the road once more, until he came across a man taking honey out of beehives. “Ah, honey gathering” thought the pig, “this is just what I’ve been looking for. I can fill my belly with delicious honey and certainly it does not look hard to gather.” So the pig asked the man to teach him how to gather honey.
The man readily agreed. He gave the pig a pair of gloves and a veil to cover his face and showed him how to lift honey out of a hive. But when the pig tried for himself some bees got into his gloves and under his veil and stung him. “How do I do this without getting stung?!” cried the pig.
“Why you can’t” said the man. “You cannot be a beekeeper without sometimes being stung.”
“Well then this is just too hard” said the pig as he waved the man goodbye.
As the little pig continued down the road he came to the realisation that every kind of work has something unpleasant about it. So he turned around and went back to his home and his vegetable garden. He hoed and raked and weeded and sang as he worked. And there was no more contented pig in all that kingdom.
I had been working much too long on this job. I guess things could have been worse. I certainly wasn’t doing hard labor. But going door to door asking questions as a representative of the federal government wasn’t the most satisfying position either.
It was August. It was hot. I had to wear a tie.
“Hello. My name is Bob Perks and we are doing a survey in this neighborhood…”
“I’m not interested! Good bye!”…slam, lock.
You can’t imagine how many times I heard that. I finally caught on and began with “Before you slam the door, I am not selling anything and I just need to ask a few questions about yourself and the community.”
The young woman inside the doorway, paused for a moment, raised her eyebrows as she shrugged her shoulders confused by my rude introduction.
“Sure. Come on in. Don’t mind the mess. It’s tough keeping up with my kids.”
It was an older home in a section of the valley where people with meager income found affordable shelter. With the little they had, the home looked comfortable and welcoming.
“I just need to ask a few questions about yourself and family. Although this may sound personal I won’t need to use your names. This information will be used…”
She interrupted me. “Would you like a glass of cold water? You look like you’ve had a rough day.”
“Why yes!” I said eagerly.
Just as she returned with the water, a man came walking in the front door. It was her husband.
“Joe, this man is here to do a survey.” I stood and politely introduced myself.
Joe was tall and lean. His face was rough and aged looking although I figured he was in his early twenties. His hands were like leather. The kind of hands you get from working hard, not pushing pencils.
She leaned toward him and kissed him gently on the cheek. As they looked at each other you could see the love that held them together. She smiled and titled her head, laying it on his shoulder. He touched her face with his hands and softly said “I love you!”
They may not have had material wealth, but these two were richer than most people I know. They had a powerful love. The kind of love that keeps your head up when things are looking down.
“Joe works for the borough.” she said.
“What do you do?” I asked.
She jumped right in not letting him answer.
“Joe collects garbage. You know I’m so proud of him.”
“Honey, I’m sure the man doesn’t want to hear this.” said Joe.
“No, really I do.” I said.
“You see Bob, Joe is the best garbage man in the borough. He can stack more garbage on the truck than anyone else. He gets so much in one truck that they don’t have to make as many runs.”, she said with such passion.
“In the long run,” Joe continues, “I save the borough money. Man hours are down and the cost per truck is less.”
There was silence. I didn’t know what to say. I shook my head searching for the right words.
“That’s incredible! Most people would gripe about a job like that. It certainly is a difficult one. But your attitude about it is amazing.” I said.
She walked over to the shelf next to the couch. As she turned she held in her hand a small framed paper.
“When we had our third child Joe lost his job. We were on unemployment for a time and then eventually welfare. He couldn’t find work any where. Then one day he was sent on an interview here in this community. They offered him the job he now holds. He came home depressed and ashamed. Telling me this was the best he could do. It actually paid less than we got on welfare.”
She paused for a moment and walked toward Joe.
“I have always been proud of him and always will be. You see I don’t think the job makes the man. I believe the man makes the job!”
“We needed to live in the borough in order to work here. So we rented this home.” Joe said.
“When we moved in, this quote was hanging on the wall just inside the front door. It has made all the difference to us, Bob. I knew that Joe was doing the right thing.” she said as she handed me the frame.
It said: If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep the streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
Martin Luther King
“I love him for who he is. But what he does he does the best. I love my garbage man!”
Source: Bob Perks Copyright 2001. Used with permission
A businessman who worked very long hours arrived home one evening to find his 7 year old son waiting for him at the door. “Daddy?”
“Yeah?” replied the man.
“Daddy, how much money do you make an hour?
“Well son, I don’t really think that’s any business of yours” the man said.
“Please daddy, please tell me, how much do you make an hour?” pleaded the little boy.
“If I tell you, you must promise you won’t tell anybody else”
“I promise” said the little boy.
“Alright then” said his father. “I make $150.00 an hour.”
“Oh,” the little boy replied. He looked a little sad, then said “Daddy, may I borrow $20.00 please?”
His father was furious. “If the only reason you wanted to know how much money I make is so you can borrow some you can go straight off to bed!”
The little boy burst into tears and made his way to his room. After an hour or so the father had calmed down and went to his son’s room. “I’m sorry for being so hard on you earlier son. If you tell me what you wanted the $20 for and it’s a worthwhile thing I’ll think about giving it to you.”
The little boy ran across the room to his piggy bank and counted out all it’s contents, exactly $130.00.
“$130.00, that’s a lot of money son. Surely that’s enough for what you wanted to buy” said the father.
“Well with the $20 you’ll give me it will be” the little boy replied. “I’d like to buy an hour of your time.”