Between the Rows: No Regrets

Published online: Dec 30, 2020 Between the Rows Tyrell Marchant, Editor
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This column appears in the January 2021 issue of Potato Grower.

Somewhere, right now, some poor 17-year-old kid, hopelessly bewitched by a tidal wave of hormones and mascara-framed golden-green eyes, has just told the girl next door that he loves her. In the moment, he means it—means it with every fiber of his being. And he might be right; plenty of high school sweethearts go on to have successful, happy marriages. But the more likely scenario is that in an hour, or a week, or a year, or five years, when he has his faculties a little more under control, he will wonder, “What was I thinking?”

Somewhere, right now, a young farmer is wondering whether he made the right decision to move back home and work with Dad. They’ve had three tough years in a row, and the guy who got the job he turned down out of college is bringing home more than $100,000 a year with a retirement package and weekends off. 

Somewhere, right now, a co-op manager moonlighting as a small school basketball coach boasting a five-game losing streak is asking himself why he took this almost-volunteer job just to listen to parents complain about playing time and have his fellow churchgoers not-as-subtly-as-they-think sneak out when he walks into the room. 

Somewhere, right now, a pre-med student is wishing she had taken that stupid final earlier instead of spending an extra day studying for a lousy B-. If she had, she would’ve made it home for Christmas break in time to say goodbye to Grandma Jenny, to feel that sweet old lady’s frail finger brush away a tear, to hear her whisper one last time, “I love you, child.”

Somewhere, right now, a devoted mom is trying to hold it together, doubting her maternal abilities as a moody, grounded teenager steadfastly embarks on Day 3 of the silent treatment.

What if we could see into our future? Would we make different decisions in an effort to change the outcome? Would it actually change anything in any substantive way? Would our lives be better? Worse? Who’s to say? If we allow ourselves to indulge in shouldas and wouldas, it doesn’t take long to discover we’ve gone down a rabbit hole from which it isn’t always easy to emerge.

They say hindsight’s 20/20, and I know it’s a tongue-in-cheek expression, but I suspect if we actually took a microscope to all our past decisions that have since been deemed mistakes, they might not look so bad after all. The heartbreaks we cause and endure, the appeals for help we accept and turn down, the business deals we close and back out of—our lives are an accumulation of these. Anybody trying to do right by their conscience, their family and their world (believe it or not, almost everyone fits into this category) will, in the aggregate, have a do-gooder account pretty safely in the black.

As we here at Potato Grower look back on 50 years of publication, I’m sure a legitimate argument can be made that there are a lot of things we should have done differently. Darryl Harris published the first issue of this magazine with a vision of giving potato growers an avenue to connect with the information and people best suited to make their farms, businesses and families thrive; to be something a little more than just media covering the industry—to actually be a part of the industry. It may be presumptuous,

but I really do believe Potato Grower has managed to do that. 

Are there some things we probably should have done differently? Sure. Did we get too political at times, and not political enough at others? Most definitely. Did we spell some names wrong, forget to call back, misplace a comma into an unfortunate position? You betcha. But always, always, the good people producing this magazine have done their honest-to-goodness best to provide the good people producing the world’s potatoes with a product that actually does them some good. 

We have 50 years worth of people to thank for our success.

Because of the good people of the U.S. potato industry, I expect us to continue that success for at least another half-century. I imagine we’ll look back then and conclude that some things should have been done differently.

But will we have regrets? I certainly hope not.