Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Bean Man.

I want to tell you a story about the "bean man."  I was in college, on summer break, and I ran Pete's Stand while others brought in the fresh vegetables.  Over the years I also worked in the fields, and drove the tractors, but for that one year, I was needed to run the stand every day, so I did.

There were customers of all types.  Most were faithful to Pete's Stand and my grandfather who had passed away just the autumn before.  They would come and tell me how sorry they were that he had died, and how glad they were that the family would keep the stand running.  I would tell them that one of Pete's last wishes was to ask my father to keep farming... Keep Pete's Stand alive, even though he was dying.

We also had customers who would ask to have their picture taken with me.  Tourists... stopping to buy a real bunch of carrots with the tops still on them, from a girl in shortalls and bare feet... dirty toes...  Pete would have told them to get the Hell out of there.  I smiled for the pictures, and made sure to keep my hair in a braid.

The bean man, at first, came to the stand once a week, but then he was there more often.  He was gruff and mean.  I always smiled at him, even when he made me feel very grumpy.  He would eat the beans off the stand and tell me they were too big, overgrown, picked too late, or didn't have any flavor... but he would buy a pound or two of them anyway, as he asked me if our scale was legally checked, in the way that scales like that have to be... certified each year to be working properly.  "Yes, I would tell him," and then I'd reach over and grab an extra handful of beans and add them to his bag for no charge, "Just in case the scale is off."  He didn't like that.  Oh, he was mean.

He would grumble at me.  I started to tell him to stop eating all the beans, that he probably ate a half a pound while he looked at vegetables and yelled at me.  I told him I often had to pick the beans, and it was very hard work... We had to pick them delicately, not to pull on the plants so there would be a second harvest.  And how would he like to crawl along in the dirt and be confronted with yellow bean bugs, that always ended up squished on your skin, all gross and making your skin a yellow/orange that would't wash off.  He would look at me as he crunched a bean, then laugh, heartily.  He was an old, big man with a beard.  He said he had thought I looked too delicate to be a farmer, but maybe I was a farmer after all.  I told him I was a Janiszyn.  And he smiled.

I would tell you his name, because of course he introduced himself, when he realized he liked my company. I like to remember him as the bean man.

He would come and sit next to me, and we would both eat raw beans from the stand while we talked and I waited on customers.  He'd even take over the little cashbox if I had to run into the bathroom.  He would talk to the customers--Tell them not to strip the corn.  Pete used to do that.  I smiled.  He made me laugh.

He never had children.  He told me about his diabetes.  I didn't understand, that he was so unhealthy.  He had a big gut, was a big man, but I didn't know it was a deadly disease.  My cousin has diabetes.  I thought they just needed to check insulin levels, and keeps things regulated.  I made him blueberry muffins, once, but he couldn't eat them, he told me. His diabetes was very bad. 

 He passed away a few years after I met him.  The diabetes was very bad.  He would ask about me, when I didn't run the stand anymore.  He wondered where I was and what I was doing.  My father told me how he asked about me.  He'd like to see me again, sometime.  I didn't get to see him.

His sister came to the stand, some time after, and told my father that he had died.  She said how he had spoken about he stand and how nice we were.  She really appreciate our kindness towards him.

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