Just Call Me Jack…

What would you do for a box of split peas? Jack, of the notorious beanstalk tradition, traded away a cow for magic beans. So if a stranger showed up at your door with 25 pounds of yellow peas, what would you give in return?

It had been a long day at work. When I arrived home to an unexpectedly empty house, I was approached by a rather hesitant teenage girl in a soccer jersey. Now, this teenage girl and her friends in the cul-de-sac were not exactly intimidating. But if you grew up where I grew up, you would underestimate no one. So I remained in my car with the door locked and asked loudly, “Can I help you?”

The girl waved nervously and said, “Um, we’re playing a game from my school and it’s called Bigger and Better and we’re trading for stuff. Is there anything you would like to trade?” I suppressed the urge to say, “everything in my yard sale stack.” The girl continued, “We have a door, a sink, and a box of split peas so far.” I decided to act as friendly as my neighbors had and got out of my car. “Let me go inside and check,” I said. Food is food regardless of whether I’ve ever eaten split peas or not. As I went into the house, I heard her say, “It can be a piece of junk, just something you want to get rid of.”

But what to trade? Our yard sale stack was a motley assortment indeed. After rummaging through my sister’s tennis racket, a stack of paper hats, and a purse, I spotted a pair of broken roller blades. A pair of broken roller blades for a bag of peas? It just might work. I grabbed the purse as my back-up deal and headed to the door.

Two teenagers awaited me outside as I held up my trade. “I have a pair of broken roller blades.”

“That’s perfect,” one said. “Here is 25 pounds of yellow peas–all for you.”

Twenty-five pounds? That was more than I expected and they were yellow peas, not split peas. Ah well, it made no difference to me. I took the decidely-lighter-than-25-pounds-box from her arm. I had a new treasure. I was going to fix all the yellow pea recipes I could find, put some bags in my church pantry, and throw the rest out for our neighborhood rabbits. But as I examined the bag, I noticed something small and brown moving around inside.

The best-laid plans go oft awry when your bag of yellow peas has a family of grain bugs. So out the door the yellow peas went–all 7 pounds of them. I felt all too much like Jack from the Beanstalk story. But, who knows? Maybe they are magic peas and I’ll be rewarded with a goose laying golden eggs for my act of quasi-neighborliness. I’ll let you know once I get back from climbing the giant peastalk that grew up in my yard.


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