Like most people, I enjoy a good laugh. Sometimes there is nothing amusing going on, so you have to be creative and make an otherwise boring situation into a delightfully entertaining moment. If you have been following my stories, then you know that I am an accountant. If you don’t know, accounting is a fairly boring profession. You spend the majority of your time looking at numbers, reports and general ledger accounts. Sometimes you are so intensely involved with a project, you forget what is going on around you. Then, sometimes, you find that if you don’t get up from your chair and walk around, you are going to fall asleep. Whenever I felt the urge to fall asleep, I would usually find something to do to wake me and everyone else up. This “something to do” is playing a practical joke on someone. Sometimes I pulled off the joke by myself, but I typically always had a willing assistant to help me pull it off.
It was on a Monday when I thought of an idea to scam the Plant Manager and the Human Resources Director. However, if it had not been for my friend Jen, I would have never thought about it. During lunch, me and a couple of my coworkers were eating and talking about our weekend activities. Val and I were talking and then all the sudden, from out of the blue, Jen starts laughing. Val and I looked at Jen and I said, “What? What’s so funny?” Jen was laughing so hard tears were coming out of her eyes and she couldn’t stop laughing long enough to tell us.” Both Val and I kept asking, “What? What are you laughing about? What’s so funny?” Finally Jen stopped long enough to say, “The ad in the paper!!” Then she started laughing again, “What ad?” I asked. It took her about ten minutes, but she finally quit laughing and she was able to tell us about the help wanted ad our company had put in the local newspaper. The ad went something like this: “Local manufacturing company in need of highly motivated production workers. Great benefits with plenty of low hanging fruit ripe for the picking.” Then I said, “Low hanging fruit?” Jen said, “Yes! Better go pick some of that fruit CJ before it’s all gone.” Then Val and I both started laughing. We talked about the low hanging fruit all during lunch and later that afternoon, I had an idea.
Now, I am not sure that the usage of “Low hanging fruit ripe for the picking” is used in the northern states, but the southern people do not use that expression to represent an opportunity other than to literally pick fruit. Our new plant manager was from Wisconsin and we all knew that he is the one who placed the ad in the paper. He was always trying to belittle southern people and made fun of us every chance he got, so it was now time for payback. Anyway, I was sitting in my office that afternoon and I was getting a bit sleepy from staring at numbers, so my mind drifted back to our conversation at lunch time. I thought about “Low hanging fruit” and I shook my head and thought, “Must be a northern thing.” Just as I was about to focus my attention on the numbers again, an idea came to mind. I opened up Microsoft Word and started typing.
Just as I was finished typing, Jen came into my office. As soon as I saw her I started laughing. She asked me, “What? What’s so funny?” I motioned for her to come over and look at my computer screen. After she read what was on the screen, she laughed and said, “That’s funny; what are you going to do with it?” I said, I’m going to get an application and fill it out and then I’m going to mail it. Jen died laughing. The letter went something like this:
My name is Robert Calvin White. My famili called me Cooter when I were a kid so now ereybody call me Cooter now. You’d can call me Cooter too. I finished scholl when I was ate. My daddy told me lerning is not what put food on the tabel. I am smart and hard at workin. As my mamma she nose. My daddy nose to but he never say so so do not as him.
I work in coal mine for five year but that dont put food on the tabel ither. I went to Gerogia to pike peaches. Now pikin fruit put food on the tabel. I like too pike peaches and I am very good fruit piker. I move here to Kentucky and do not have many fruit to pike. I do pike strawberys but I ate more than I pike. I pike appels and I pike cherrys to. Mamma say you need low fruit piker I say I want that job. Low fruit piking like berrys is someting I really good at. I am sewer to. I made my mama a dress. I good sewer I am. As my mamma she nose my daddy nose to but he dont like me to sew. He says sewin is fer girls and I shore aint no girl. As my mamma she nose daddy nose to. Go ahed as him he will say so to I aint no girl.
I can start pikin tomorrow. I donot have a telefone so come get me at my house. I live on Apple Lane next to the big water towar and my house is the second trailor on the rite. I will wait fer you here. Just honk yor horn when you get here.
Once the letter was finished, Jen and I filled out an application. We made up all the information and we took turns filling out the application. Since I am left-handed, I used my right hand to write and vice versa for Jen. Then I went to the supply closet in the plant and found a piece old Christmas stationary and an envelope. I tossed them on the floor and placed my foot on the piece of paper and smeared it on the dirty cement floor. Jen worked on “dirtying up” the envelope. Once I was satisfied the stationary and envelope were dirty enough, Jen and I went back to my office and addressed the envelope. Jen took the letter with her that day when she left work and dropped it in the mail in the next city so it wouldn’t be post marked from our little town. Then we waited and waited – for three days.
Each day, after the receptionist return from the morning mail pickup, I would go look through the mail to see if the letter had arrived. On the third day, the letter had finally made it to our company. We had addressed it to the HR person, Sherry, and I was eager for her to open it and I started to take the letter to her, but then I thought that would be too obvious, so I waited. Jen shared an office with the plant manager, Chris, and later that afternoon, she called me. She said, “They got the letter.” She said she overheard Sherry and the Chris talking about the applications. I asked what was said and Jen said, “I didn’t hear that part I just heard Sherry tell Chris we got some applicants today.”
Later that day, I happened past Sherry’s door and looked in. Sherry was sitting at her desk so I stuck my head in and said, “Hey! How’s your day going?” She smiled and said, “Good. How is your day going?” I said, “Pretty good. I was wondering, have we hired anyone for the job opening in the plant yet?” She shook her head no, and then she smiled and said, “We did get a few applications though. One of them was really bizarre.” I asked, “What do you mean?” She started telling my about how dirty the letter was and that it was printed on Christmas stationary. Then she told me the guy was a fruit picker and he must think we are looking for fruit pickers.” I said, “Well, that’s kind of what the ad said. Did you read the ad?” She said, “No, I didn’t. It was sent to the paper while I was on vacation.” I started laughing and said, “You might want to read it. Maybe you will see why the poor guy was confused.” She pulled the ad up on the internet and she started laughing. She looked at me and said, “Well no wonder the guy thinks we are looking for someone to pick our peaches.” I asked, “Did Chris read the letter?” She said, “I’m not sure; let’s go see.”
We went to Chris’ office and waited for him to get off the phone. Once he was finished with his phone conversation, Sherry asked him, “Did you read Cooter’s letter?” He looked puzzled and asked, “Who is Cooter?” Sherry started laughing and said, “He is one of the applicants we got today. I gave them to you earlier.” He said, “Oh. No, I haven’t had a chance yet.” She said, “Well, let me know if you want me to go pick him up tomorrow.” Chris was curious, so he started going through the stack of letters on his desk. When Sherry saw Cooter’s letter, she pointed it out and said, “That’s it. The dirty looking one.” About that time, Jen walked into the office. Chris took the letter from the envelope and unfolded it. As he read the letter, I could see his stern look turn into a “What the hell?” look and I almost died laughing, but I managed to keep a straight face. When he was finished reading, he laughed and said, “Is this a joke? What’s all that crap about picking fruit?” Sherry said, “That’s what the ad said. It said we had plenty of low hanging fruit, and according to Cooter, the lower the better.” Jen and I were acting like we had no idea what the letter said, so we begged Chris to let us read it. He gave us the letter and simultaneously we read the letter out loud so others in the office would hear what it said. Soon we had three customer service girls in there with us and then the receptionist came in the office too. They all wanted to read Cooter’s letter because none of them believe what it said.
For two entire days, the office gossip was about Cooter the fruit picker. And believe me, we all took the opportunity to pick on Chris and his northern dialect. Finally the president became aware of Cooter. After she read the letter, she said, “That’s sounds like something CJ would do.” Luckily, Jen was with me when the president approached me about the letter. I admitted to writing the letter and the entire time I was confessing, Jen was cracking up. I think the only reason I didn’t get into trouble is because the joke kept the office staff laughing for a whole week. When everyone found out that Cooter’s letter was a joke, they all wanted a copy of it so they could show it to their friends – even the president wanted a copy of it. I haven’t thought about Cooter in a long time, but I bet if he was real, he would be out there today – somewhere picking that low hanging fruit. 😛