Farmer Joe and William Miller
Kate, Age 11, Armstrong, BC

Once, not too long ago, William Miller, a detective from Vancouver was driving along in his shiny, black, Porsche convertible near the farming town of Armstrong when all of a sudden POP!

“Oh, no!’’ he cried. “That's my second flat today. No wonder they gave these tires to me for half price! Pieces of junk! I guess I’ll phone the tow truck and ask them to come pick me up.’’ He reached for his cell phone only to find it had fallen in the mud during all the commotion.

Ten minutes later a big rumbling truck came down the road.  “Wait! Stop!  Don’t leave me here all alone!’’ he yelled. The truck screeched to a halt. Rust covered most of the truck. The remaining paint was the colour of an overripe tomato. Dead bugs were plastered across the windshield and one huge crack went right across its length. The driver reached out through his window and pulled the outside handle to open the door. The hinges protested with a screech as the door was opened. Out stepped a man wearing over-alls splattered with oil, dried manure and bits of hay. On his feet were great huge rubber boots with duck tape wrapped around the toes. He ran his greasy fingers through a tangle of hair.

“Keep your shirt on,” he said in a gruff, no-nonsense voice. “I won’t leave you out here all alone. My name is Bill but everyone calls me Farmer Joe.”

Twenty bumpy and very uncomfortable minutes later they pulled up to a shack with paint peeling off the boards, a chimney missing a few bricks, and tall weeds and grass surrounding it, with chickens scurrying along the porch.

“Well, here it is. I’ll phone the tow truck and ask him to take you home.”

“I love your barn.” William sneered. “It looks almost like a house.”

“It is a house,” Farmer Joe replied.

“Really?’’ William laughed. “I wouldn’t let a pig sleep in there if you paid me a million dollars.’’

Joe was starting to get annoyed by this arrogant person and wanted very much to put him in his place.

“You wouldn’t last ten minutes on the farm!’’ His voice was shrill and angry.

“Oh yeah? Well, you wouldn’t last in the city for five minutes!” William roared.

We’ll just see about that!’’ Farmer Joe muttered under his breath. 

“I propose that you and I switch lives for one week,” Joe said to William Miller. “I’ll go to the city for a week and you stay at the farm.”

“I accept your challenge! Ha, this should be easy for me.’’ 

The apartment William lived in was spotless. His cabinet was filled up with trophies he had won and lots of pictures of himself. When Joe walked into the house he felt the need to tiptoe for fear he might break something. After three days of watching the Home Shopping Channel, eating potato chips and being completely bored, he finally felt the need to go out for dinner. Ten minutes later the farmer had come across a restaurant called Alonzo’s Greek Cuisine.

“Yum!” he said. “ I love Greek grub.” Inside, Joe the farmer had ordered rice with shrimp. When the order came he asked the waiter, “Um excuse me but could I have some ketchup with this?” The waiter looked horrified.

“I’m sorry. We don’t have ketchup in this restaurant,” he said with a disdainful shrug. “Perhaps you should try the McDonald's right across the street.”

Meanwhile, back at the farm, William was milking the cows, stacking the hay, feeding the pigs and being completely . . . well he definitely wasn’t bored. After three days William had been kicked by a cow, splashed with manure and the horse had run off. After one week, both Joe and William had had quite enough of each other’s lives. William couldn't stand all the smelly jobs that he had to do, and Farmer Joe was tired of restaurants that didn’t even serve ketchup. 

Joe was just waiting to board the plane in Vancouver that would take him to Kelowna and back to his farm when the door swung open and out walked William just getting off the plane.

"I hate the country,” William said. His hair tangled with hay and clumps of manure clinging to his ripped pants. “I’m coming home!”

“Well, that’s fine with me!” the farmer said. Farmer Joe had to borrow some of William’s clothes and looked ridiculous in a plaid shirt and pants that were way too small for him. And, to add insult to injury, he had his shoes on the wrong feet. “Your apartment stinks!’’

Then, to everyone's surprise they started laughing.

“You look hilarious! Did you look in the mirror before you left?” William said.

“Oh yeah? Well, look at yourself!”

“I’ll never be a farmer” William said. “But I’ll never forget it!”

“Agreed!” Farmer Joe replied. 

The Moral: Accept people for who they are. [And never go to a place that doesn’t serve ketchup]    


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