Friday, August 17, 2007

The Stupidity of Washing Fish

By Matthew Sanborn Smith

As a lad, I knew a man who washed fish in the market. My friends and I laughed at him all day long. Fish spent years in the water, they were never out of the water until the very end. They were about as clean as anything could be. The old man was a fool.

I took the lesson of his life and carried it with me into adulthood. If I was going to wash anything, it would be something that was dirty. And what could be more dirty than dirt? It spent its entire existence (after being shaved from its mother rock) in dirt. I set up my stall in the market and six days a week you could find me on my little stool washing dirt.

There’s peace to be found washing dirt. Job security. You never run out. I’d take a big clump of dirt in the morning and by mid-day I’d have washed all the dirt from it and produced a sparkling clean . . . Well, nothing, really, to show for it. But the work was its own reward.

Children laughed at me all day long. You could tell by their ignorance and close-set eyes that they’d grow up to become fish washers. Another generation lost. It was a shame really.

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