Patience and peas

At 18 years old, with no discernible skills, meaningful accomplishments or qualifications, I was pretty much unemployable. So when, one summer, I was offered a night job in a Pea factory I jumped at the opportunity.

Note: It is important you understand I WAS NOT on hallucinogenic drugs during the time in which the following occurred.

At the start of my first shift, the manager of the Pea factory enthusiastically led me through his domain, explaining in minutiae detail the peas journey of ‘farm to shopping basket’ through his fine establishment.

As a newly appointed worker I felt it important to ingratiate myself into the “life of the pea” and therefore listened intently.

“So whats my role in all of this Mr Peabody?” I asked.

“Ahhh” he replied with a twinkle in his eye. “Come with me young man”. 

And so off we plodded through this wonderful land of peas. We ascended what felt like a hundred flights of legume filled floors until we reached the summit of the factory.

Mount Pea, if you like.

“Here is where the magic starts.”

Mr Peabody declared, opening his arms towards an enormous shiny bucket.

“The pride and joy of the factory.”

Indeed it was. A giant canister, packed to the brim with the greenest and cleanest peas this side of the moon.

“So what do you need me for?”

I asked.

“We must get the peas from up HERE.”

He said

“To down there.”

He gestured beneath us towards waves of conveyor belts, lined with net haired workers, cocked and ready to inspect the peas that were soon to cascade upon them.

“Why don’t you just tilt the bucket and pour them?”

I asked, with a naive shrug.

He threw me a knowing look before reaching behind the giant bucket of peas.

“Because the peas must be frozen, so they stay fresh for the customers, young man. When you tilt, they go nowhere, until you break them up with THIS.”

It was in this opportune moment, that he handed me a gargantuan silver fork in a short ceremonial gesture that felt like a miniature coronation.

Was he crowning me king of the peas? But instead of presenting a crown, he was bestowing upon me a giant fork.

I took the gigantic fork into my hands, gazing at it with wonder. I then turned my eyes on the workers below, full of anticipation on the conveyor belts, waiting for the fork to strike its maiden blow and commence proceedings.

Entrusted upon me, on my first day at work, was this, THE most important job in the factory. I was the master of the pea universe and nothing would happen until I hefted my almighty fork.

Now, although I was honoured to be given such a role just five minutes into my first shift, I was also cautious, as heavy is the crown.

Even though young, I knew this much.

“He’s spotted something in me.” I thought to myself. “He’s seen something special. I won’t let him down, I will be the most honourable bearer of the fork at the summit of Mount Pea there has ever been!”

I turned to Mr Peabody, wiped a tear from my eye and raised my hand to my forehead in full military salute. He saluted me back. We looked in each others eyes and the gaze was held.

Not a blink was given.

Brave, honourable men can see the resilience in each others souls when they stare long and deep enough. I imagine it was at this moment, that Mr Peabody knew. Although he’d taken an almighty risk on such an unproven candidate, he’d made the right decision.

I gave him the nod.

“Lets get this show on the road…”

And at exactly 10pm on the 8th August the pea bucket was tilted, I hefted my almighty fork, striking an unyielding strike into the surface layer and the four blades of the ceremonial weapon sent the perilous peas down towards their dinner destiny.

The factory was back in business with a new master at the helm…

….45 minutes later

At exactly 10.45pm I realised i’d been had.

I was no king.

This was the hardest, most relentless job in the factory. I was the latest in a long line of pea paupers that seldom lasted a night. I had another 7 hours of frozen pea crushing to go and my shoulders and back were already numb with pain.

It was the longest night of my life. I didn’t take my eyes off the clock all night. Every back breaking, soul destroying minute observed as it tick tocked slowly by.

Yet, the funny thing is, 20 odd years later I can remember this first ever shift as if it was yesterday.

The strange thing with time, is that in the moments it can feel like you are trudging through mud, but the years will fly by in a heartbeat….

So why am I regaling this oddly abstract account of an experience from two decades ago, and what on earth has it got to do with my new and far less coveted employ as a fitness trainer?

The number one reason for people giving up on an EXERCISE plan is impatience with results. I watched the clock EVERY minute of every hour during those fork hefting night shifts, just as many people watch the scales, the tape measure, the results, every single day of an exercise routine.

Sometimes, it feels like its taking forever. So people QUIT what they were doing so well because it just seems to take so long…because they’re watching the clock.

…the ensuing months go by in a heartbeat and then they remember they want a healthy body, so they restart again, except if they had never quit with frustration they would now be further along the road, exactly where they wanted to be.

“The days are long but the years are short…” Gretchen Rubin

Whenever you feel like quitting, whenever you feel like its taking you a long time to get where you want to be…

…remember, today will become 2 months, 6 months, 2 years, 10 years from now in a heartbeat.

So keep focused on TODAY, stop worrying about the results, and remember that all the time you are ‘watching the clock’ it will feel like its taking a long time.


Unlike me with my short-lived pea career, if you’re working out you’re on the right track!

As soon as you take your eyes off the clock (results) time will fly by and before you know it, it will be the end of your shift.

The shift always ends just as results always come to those who persist.

Oh…and if a kindly fella with a giant fork ever offers you a job.

Smile, politely decline and run away as fast as you can.

  1. Angela 6 years ago

    I joined the site last night. I was just getting ready to do the fitness test until I got on the scale. I immediately got discouraged because I’ve gained weight this week. I had been doing so well, I’d lost 27 pounds since January by eating right and exercising every morning before work. This last week has been horrible in both exercises (even though i worked out sone every day, i had only two days of hitting my 10000 steps) and I’ve eaten poorly (although still better than I would have eaten prior to January). I just read my devotional and it was about each day being a new gift to start fresh and I can’t change yesterday. Then I pick up my tablet to find the challenge and this “pea story” is already here. All this was a very wordy way of saying it was just what I needed to read. I’ve been at this consistently for over six months. I cant let this setback discourage me. Thank you for the motivation.

  2. Norma Pina 6 years ago

    awwww so inspirational . Is so easy to give up that’s why we do it, but hard work, discipline and patience are the keys to success ..

  3. Karen Mennenga 6 years ago

    Very well written! You have a wonderful flare for humor in your message 🙂 I can almost see you with that special fork in hand!

  4. Sally webb 6 years ago

    What an inspiration to keep going with my personal goal. Thanks. Love your blog.

  5. Ronny Smythe 6 years ago

    Very funny words and and inspirational message. Keep these blogs coming!

  6. MikeFleming 6 years ago

    Daniel I find myself thinking about your blogs long after I read them. This was no exception. As a newspaper man of more than three decades, and an editor for half that time, I can say without a doubt people like me look and wish for writers with your natural talent every day! I love the word play, the message, and your approachability. Let me join the chorus of voices saying that there is a book in you. I’m moved by your words and inspired by the heart they show!

    • Author
      Daniel Bartlett 6 years ago

      Mike, thank you so very much for your kind words, it really does mean a lot coming from you and gives me the confidence to carry on with writing blogs.

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