The book "The Grapes of Wrath" is a classic because it has many lessons to teach. The author John Steinbeck tells a great story of the trials and tribulations of the Joad family. The Joad family is forced to leave their life of farming in Oklahoma because of the dust bowl. They decide to head to California to get a job and start a new life. In this post, I want to focus on the advice Tom Joad gives to a man working at a junkyard who is very bitter about life and work.
With the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is natural to feel a little down, especially if you are out of a job. And those with a job may feel lucky they at least have a job but may not be happy being stuck in a job with a bad boss. What to do? Tom Joad's advice may help you.
Tom Joad stopped at the junkyard with his brother Al to find a part to fix his truck so the Joad family can continue their journey to California. Tom did not expect to run into a man who was close to being down and out. Tom offers this man the hard truth and puts some sense in his head that the man is to blame for his situation. And it is he who must do something to change it.
Tom Joad is the right person to tell this man since Tom had it tough. He just got paroled from prison for killing a man in a fight and finds out that his family's farm has been taken away by the bank. He joins them on a long and arduous journey to California to start a new and, hopefully, a better life.
Along their journey, their old car breaks down. Tom and his brother Al go to a nearby junkyard to get a spare part to repair the truck so they can continue their journey. When they arrive at the junkyard, they are greeted by a one-eyed man working there. He is not very friendly. The man is bitter since he has lost an eye. He hates his job because of an abusive boss whom he would like to kill. The one-eyed man is stuck in his life, and it shows in how he approaches his job, especially customers.
The one-eyed man complains to Tom how bad his situation is at work and is even contemplating killing his boss with a wrench. Tom had enough listening to his complaints and offered this simple advice.
"Whyn't you roll on? Got no guards to keep ya here."
The man says to Tom that it is not easy to get a job when you have one eye.
Tom tells the man to focus on what he has and take care of himself instead of waiting to go after his boss with a wrench.
"Now look-a-here, fella. You got that eye wide open. An' ya dirty, ya stink. Ya jus' askin' for it. Ya like it. Lets ya feel sorry for yaself.' Course ya can't get no woman with that empty eye flap-pin' aroun'. Put somepin over it an' wash ya face. You ain't hittin' nobody with no pipe wrench."
Again the man brings up that he has limited his options because of one eye.
Tom had enough of this man's complaints and told him to stop feeling sorry for himself. To get in his head, Tom tells him a story about how a one-legged prostitute turned her disability into a financial advantage.
"Ya full a crap. Why, I knowed a one-legged whore one time. Think she was takin' two-bits in a alley? No, by God! She's gettin' half a dollar extra. She says, 'How many one-legged women you slep' with? None!' she says.' O.K.,' she says. 'You got somepin pretty special here, an' it's gonna cos' ya half a buck extry.' An' by God, she was gettin' 'em, too, an' the fellas comin' out thinkin' they're pretty lucky. She says she's good luck."
Tom's advice is getting through the one-eyed man, but the one-eyed man is still not sure he can change.
Tom tells him to fudge a little with "Tell 'em ya dong's growed sence you los' your eye."
Sometimes in life, you need to make yourself look good. You don't need to tell people the absolute truth since they don't want the truth. They want a story that tells the the truth they want to believe. You want to keep it general so it can't be a lie. And that is exactly what Tom is telling the one-eyed man to do to own his narrative.
Tom tells the man that he can get a job even with one eye since he can work with one eye. The man was persuaded and wanted to know if there was any room to join them. Tom told the man that there was no room, but if he really wanted to make a change, he could fix one of the wrecks in his yard and go on his own. The man said that he will do that.
Tom told the man not what he wanted to hear but what he needed to hear.
Tom Joad does a few things in this interaction with a one-eyed man that we can all learn from:
Disclaimer: I don't get anything from recommending you purchase the audiobook from Audible.
Jay Oza is an author, speaker, executive coach. He makes people thrive on high stakes stage whether it's for a job interview, a sales presentation or a high-stakes speech. He is the author of a practical book Winning Speech Moments: How to Achieve Your Objective with Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere. You can get this book on Amazon for 99 cents for limited time. Please download the free speech checklist that you can use to help you create a winning speech for any situation.
Please contact him if you would like to have a two 75 minute coaching session on job interviewing or high-stakes speaking. If you are interested in inviting him to give a talk on job Interviewing or high-stakes speaking. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.