Rough as cob, sweet as corn

By Judge Brian Addington, Gray

Brian Addington

As summer winds up, soon we’ll be saying farewell to fresh corn on the cob. Sigh.

I love corn: corn on the cob, popcorn, grilled corn with cheese, creamed corn, and plain old frozen or canned corn.

My Nana could cook the heck out of corn. I used to fight with my cousins to be first in line at dinners, so I would have dibs on her sweet creamed corn. When she cooked corn on the cob, she’d save me one for breakfast the next morning. Yes, I ate my corn for breakfast on the cob, not in a cereal bowl. She and my Papa grew the sweetest corn around. I really miss them and her meals.

One thing my Nana left me were her sayings, such as “rough as a cob” and “sweet as corn.”

Sometimes “rough as a cob” was deservingly directed at me when I broke something of hers, like windows, vases, gutters, etc. Other times it was directed at my brother or cousins and me when we were (all-the-time) fighting.

Nana raised girls, so she often reserved “sweet as corn” for the female members of the family or her sweet friends.

As sweet as corn is, it can lead to accidents.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve put a big corn on the cob on my plate, only for it to slip off onto my shirt and then the floor. Yeah, there’s nothing like cleaning greasy butter off a brand new shirt. (I like corn with my butter.)

And sometimes, the presence of corn can cause an accident at work.

In 1992, Michael Suddath found himself working for Charles Parks on a cattle farm. Although Mr. Suddath was his employee, Mr. Parks was not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance because he had fewer than five employees.

To control breeding on his farm, Mr. Parks separated two bulls from his cows. Mr. Suddath explained the smaller of the bulls was “a little rambunctious” (rough as a cob) at feeding time, and Mr. Parks told Mr. Suddath to keep a watch on him.

In April 1993, to feed the bulls, Mr. Suddath put out some hay and spread corn on top of it. While Mr. Suddath was keeping his eye on the smaller bull, the larger bull, thinking he was in a china shop, butted him from behind, causing injuries to his back, neck, and right leg.

Mr. Suddath sued Mr. Parks in tort, since it wasn’t a worker’s compensation claim. Mr. Parks filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Mr. Parks didn’t know the larger bull was cantankerous and it’s obvious that a big bull might butt you.

cornThe Court quoted the saying “bulls will be bulls,” but if the members of the Court knew my Nana, I’m sure they would have found that bull rough as a cob.

It was an unfortunate situation for Mr. Suddath and a reminder to all employees to consider whether an employer is required to have workers’ compensation coverage before starting a job. Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-106 contains the list of employments not covered.

Knowing your rights before you start a job is sweet as corn.

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