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A Day In The Life: The Willard Chronicles


Do you know them? Are you one of their kind??

Well, boys & girls, ladies & gents, folks of all ages, let me introduce you to the leader of your organization, the founder, the executive, the kingpin, the head honcho, the big wig, the chief, the top dog, the GODFATHER of stubbornness himself...


Have you met him? No? Yes? Either way, you probably think I’m going a little overboard in his introduction. Well, here’s a little story to clue you in, just a small glimpse into life at the syrup plant with Willard, who happens to be the most hard-headed man I know.

Last week, Willard was diagnosed with pneumonia in one lung. Chest x-rays were done. Shots were administered (on two different days). Rest was strongly suggested. No need to suggest it, the man is almost 84 years old, pneumonia was winning that argument already. So, he sat in his recliner, or lay in his bed, for many days. By week’s end, his legs were hurting from lying around so much.

During this time last week, we ran syrup without him. He hates it when we do that. Alas, the golden goodness production doesn’t stop; we are in the throes of our busiest season for crying out loud! And while we can make it without him, we don’t always want to, but it can and sometimes must be done.

This week, we expected to be much the same, running without Willard. Not as fun, but necessary.

I come in

to work this morning and declare that Willard won’t be running syrup with us, he is 83 with pneumonia after all, and should be resting. About 45 minutes later, he strolls through the front door, making a liar out of me, and a stubborn, hard headed, unyielding, bullhead of himself.

Not that we didn’t already know that, looooooooonnngggg before this morning, but still, no need to flaunt it Willard, we know about you and your kind.

I greet him at our entrance and ask what he thinks he’s doing here, at work, just having been down with pneumonia for over a week, he replies, “I’m coming to work, I’m fine, my legs just hurt when I walk.”

(During a syrup run, you know what Willard does, WALK. Up and down the production line like a caged lion, back and forth and back and forth. Walking. The ENTIRE time.)

I just shake my head, because what else could I do? Lock the front door?….maybe I’ll try that next time!

The run begins. It isn’t long before I notice he’s slow going, and I make a suggestion that he go and sit down for a bit. “I might in a little while”. More jars come down the line, more time passes, he walks my way again, and while boxing the jars I stop and look him dead in the eye and no longer suggest, but sternly state, “you NEED to go sit down”. He gathers a smug grin, goes back towards his post on the line, removes his gloves, mumbles something and then walks back to sit in his chair at our kitchen table, within sight of me.

Always, ALWAYS, keep Willard in sight of you. It is a must.

An episode of Bonanza is playing on the television. So, I think, well, maybe if we’re lucky this will keep his attention for a while. After a few minutes, he’s bored with Hoss and Little Joe, so he pops up and turns to head back to the production line…..I hold my hand up in the STOP RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE position and politely shout, “sit back down, we’re fine, you need to stay where you are”.

Look, the machines are noisy, I didn’t want to, but I had to shout. ☺

He bends his knees, sits back down and turns to face the tv again.

Another few minutes pass, and by few I mean we haven’t even made it to another commercial break yet and he POPS up again and this time makes it to the threshold before I stop him and declare that if he doesn’t go sit back down RIGHT NOW then I won’t be getting him his coconut pie for lunch! Look, if he’s going to behave like a child, then I must scold him as one.

He obliges one last time. But soon thereafter is up again and passing behind me on the line before I can turn around to stop him. I shout out GO BACK…. he turns to me and says “look, I sat for 20 minutes, if I sit there any longer my butt is gonna be glued to the chair”.

And with that, he put his gloves on and returned to the line.

And he ate coconut pie with his lunch.

And he plans on coming back to work again tomorrow.

Because he drinks the stubborn kool-aid straight from the tap. Daily. By the gallon.


Is that a trait that is transmitted through DNA? Asking for a friend.

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