Johnny the Chicken Slat Man

It happened in Globe.
The man walked up to mule Brick who was tied to a poplar tree and said, “I thought she was loose.”

“She’s not,” I said, “but thanks for checking.”

Bernie Harberts, mule, chicken slat, johnny, man

The man, the tree and Brick. (Globe, NC)

The man looked tired.
Me: “What do you do for a living?”
Him: “I build chicken slats.”
Me: “What’s that?”
Him: “It’s what chickens lay eggs on and the chickens will always keep laying.”
Me: “Where’s your job?”
Him: “Taylorsville, one and a half hours away. There’s no work in Globe.”
Me: “I’m Bernie. What’s your name?”
Him: “Johnny.”

He looked distant and weary.

Bernie Harberts, mule, chicken slat, johnny, man

Johnny: chicken slat builder.

Every week I’m out here on the road with my mules, I learn of a new job I never knew existed.
I will think of Johnny next time I fry an egg.


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