Fresh Turnip Greens

turnip-greensA few weeks ago on a nearly perfect fall morning, I was enjoying a cup of coffee on the patio of Starbucks in Bellevue, when I noticed a 1980s Chevy pickup pull in and park a short distance from the coffee shop entrance.  A “seventy-something” gentleman in overalls got out, opened the tailgate and pulled out a hand-lettered sign on the back of a cardboard box saying “Fresh Turnip Greens”.  Then as each coffee thirsty Starbucks customer hurriedly made their way from the parking lot to the front door he would shout, “Hey, do you want some fresh turnip greens?  I’ve got fresh greens here.”

There are many things of which I eat too much; turnip greens are not on that list. As far as I can remember, those soggy, slimy, limp leaves have only passed my lips once during my time on earth and that time was extremely short lived. For the life of me, I can’t comprehend how people eat them.  However, I do recognize that countless folks love them with a fanatical kind of love. Fresh turnip greens right out of the garden would be simply too tempting for many folks to pass up, including my wife and my son. Cathy was raised in the country so I can understand her fondness, but it is beyond me how Michael acquired a taste for greens.  Must have been his time a UT.

As I sat there watching the farmer hawking his homegrown delicacy, it occurred to me that there seems to be a wide, deep and seemingly unbridgeable chasm between turnip greens and the typical Starbucks customer, for not a single turnip green was sold that morning. My take is that the farmer was simply in the wrong place. I’m assuming a bit here. He had worked hard in his garden and had a good product. I’m sure he had a fair price and he seemed to be a good salesman. But still he didn’t sale any turnip greens. If only he had sought marketing advice; perhaps someone would have told him that if he moved his truck 100 feet west of Starbucks to the Kroger parking lot he would certainly have a more receptive audience. People actually buy turnip greens at Kroger! For some reason folks who drink lattés don’t eat a lot of greens, even if they are southern born.  The farmer probably had no way of knowing that on his own. All he knew was that there sure seemed to be a lot of people coming and going over at the coffee place. To him it made perfect sense.

Life is full of what I’m calling “Turnip Green Folks” – people who tend to live in their own reality; who come to conclusions based on their own opinions and hunches without seeking advice and input from others. That is a risky way to live. The inevitable pitfall of such decision making, more often than not, is disappointment, frustration, wasted effort and coming up on the short end of the stick. Simply thinking you are right doesn’t make you right.

Something to think about

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