Tim Belford: Short Takes On Life
Tim Belford
Tim Belford
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Tim Belford is host of Quebec A.M. -- CBC Radio's popular English- language morning show (91.7 FM, 6-9, Mon.-Fri). He also is said to know a thing or three about wine.

Posted 05.13.04
Quebec City


On cherries, pigs, and why I was fired

I've only been fired once in my life.

That's not counting the newspaper that folded just before Christmas and left both me and Santa holding the bag.

After all, that's not really being fired. More like being presented with a new career option.

But the one time I was given the boot taught me a very valuable lesson.

Never throw cherries at the pigs.

You see I was working for the Smith brothers.

No, not the cough drop twins, these were two bachelor farmers, Herbie and Bobby, who owned a hundred acres of fruit trees and four of our porcine friends.

I had been hired on with a cousin to pick cherries for the princely sum of forty-five cents an hour.

A rather tidy amount for a thirteen year-old with no discernible skills back in 1960.

It was also considerably better than doing the same sort of thing for my father for free.

The work was in no way arduous -- at least not at the pace we set for ourselves.

It also had the not-to-be-ignored perk of being able to fill up on cherries on the frequent occasions that the above-mentioned Smith brothers absented themselves from the orchard.

But back to the pigs.

They were Bobby's pride and joy.

Each morning, he would stir up a great pot of pig swill containing various farmhouse scraps, floor scrapings, and damaged fruit.

And each morning he would ask the assembled crew if anyone would care for a bowl of soup before heading out to the orchard.

And at least once a week a newcomer - usually a city kid - would say sure, much to the general merriment of us old hands.

The pigs themselves were a beautiful shade of story-book pink.

I don't know whose idea it was - most likely my cousin, rather than me - but one lunch time after we had wolfed down our sandwiches and while Herbie and Bobby were up at the house, somebody decided to throw a cherry at a pig.

Now, a cherry won't hurt a pig but apparently this particular breed were cursed with tender skin.

The cherry left a perfectly round, easily discernible bruise.

And, thirteen year-olds are, if nothing else, curious.

So another cherry was tossed and another bruise popped up.

To make a long story short, by the end of the lunch break each pig looked like a character from a Doctor Seuss book, sort of a fat, square snouted, leopard.

I'm sure Bobby's first thought was that his prize animals had come down with some sort of rare swine flu.

But the truth was soon out and so were my cousin and I.

So, an invaluable lesson learned right along with why you shouldn't poke a hornet's nest to see what they'll do.

But that's another story.