Anecdote: People, Places, Things
Reviewing our comprehensive report on the state of the industry reminds me that none of the strides pinpointed in our report could happen without the industry’s human accessories, for no operation qualifies as well groomed without the men and women who serve its cause. They represent the many faces stored in my mental file cabinet collected during my travels to corporate headquarters and processing plants for 12 years as of this month, the anniversary of my professional journey in the realm of trade publishing. Thank you for helping me to practice my craft by giving me access to your business activities. I feel a sense of kinship with people who toil of necessity. I say that, knowing I have no idea, for the most part, how people I encounter come by their jobs in the meat and poultry industry. I do know about Joe Chapline, however. I recently met him on my visit to the Cargill Meat Solutions’ fed cattle plant in Fort Morgan, CO. I single him out here in part for personal reasons. You see my nephew is on military assignment in Iraq. Joe recently received his discharge from the U.S. Army after completing a four-year stint. He served his final tour of duty in Iraq. As a journalist, I try not to ask condescending questions, and I hope that is not how I came across to Joe when I asked him if TV reports were accurate. “No, it’s worse,” he answered, “but I’m here now.”
On that same visit to Fort Morgan, Joe’s name came up during lunch with several of my host executives. Seems he showed up at the plant seeking work, but had no particular idea of where he might fit. Rather than hurting his chances of employment, Joe encountered Mike Chabot, the plant’s general manager, who found his honesty refreshing. He was on the job a month as a college trainee, when I met him.
Joe and the millions of others who choose careers in the food production and distribution businesses cast their ballots on a daily basis to ensure that the state of the industry is sound. That’s a good thing.