Pershing’s Rule

From The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson:

Later in the summer, he went looking for work at the sawmill. He saw a classmate there from high school and was told the work wasn’t too hard. It was stacking wood staves to make barrels. Pershing asked the foreman for a job. There was nothing available, he was told. He was getting desperate. He spotted his friend stacking staves.

“Show me how to do this.”

The friend showed him what to do, and Pershing worked beside him. He looked up and saw the foreman watching him. Pershing pretended not to see him, worked even harder. The foreman left, and, when he came back, Pershing was still at work. At the end of the day, the foreman hired him. Pershing finished out the summer stacking staves, not minding the hard work and not finding it demeaning.

“Sometimes,” he said, “you have to stoop to conquer.”

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