The best and worst parts about my job:
I come home all damp with sweat and covered in a moderate amount of grime, but heaven forbid if my company t-shirt comes untucked from my khaki pants.
Everyday at the start of our shift we receive stern and all-too-serious warnings about racoons and their sinful, devious plans to get their rat-hands on our precious food products. Keep the doors and windows closed! You can't see them... but they're out there! Plotting. Scheming. Biding their time.
When the warnings are extra-serious they will also include squirrels and foxes in that woe-begotten grouping. I asked what our response would be if such a tragedy was ever to occur...
When I attended "orientation," they sent people in from every department to talk about the company. The only fat guy in the place showed up and said, "I work in the quality department. I bet you think my job is to hang out in the back and taste chips all day. It is!" He certainly is a jolly fat man.
Apparently, one of his job duties includes roaming the aisles of the warehouse with a bb-gun to smite our many enemies.
Another thing I enjoy about work is when we move the delivery trucks. You get to go outside at the top of a grassy green hill, under the mountains and over the city. The trucks are a cross between a U-Haul and a city bus. If they would let me borrow one of the trucks when I move, it would be one of the coolest job perks ever. Not likely.
Sometimes we move the trucks in the day but mostly it's at night. You sit staring at the city lights out of the giant windows with the door wide open and the night air rushing in. It's peaceful.
Some things about my coworkers:
Paula (from Cambodia) is the nicest one. A lot of the people get mad and blame all of the problems on "the new people." (Is it MY fault we're behind or is it because the conveyor belt broke down ten times in the last hour? jerks.) When I don't understand and do something silly, Paula just smiles, involuntarily, like she's watching a four-year-old trying to tie their shoe.
Doris. Man is she bossy. She would step over her dying mother if she thought it would improve her numbers. She's been working here for 5 years. She was all excited tonight about being at 103% of "company expectations." Not a good sign. She is hard to understand and vague. The first time she spoke to me, I had to wonder if she was hitting on me. She said, "You don't speak spanish? You look like you do. I thought we could stay up late and speak spanish to each other."
How many times has someone said THAT to you? Sounds like a pick-up line to me. Even when she says things like "crunchy cheetos," it sounds like she's speaking spanish: Crun-chichitos. She gets frustrated with me.
There are some huge polynesian dudes working there, too. One of them talks like my three-year-old in a Rocky Balboa, slurred baritone. He doesn't speak in complete sentences. He'll say, "Seh-tu? Seh-fo?" And you're supposed to know to respond, "Yes, I loaded truck 72 and 74." He's huge and looks like a steriod monster with solid black eyes and dirty dreadlocks, but he's actually one of the nicest and most helpful guys there.
Dave is another huge polynesian. He speaks louder and clearer than anyone I have ever met. He speaks like he's trying to lecture 500 people without a microphone. He'll ask you where you went to high school and when you finish your answer he will describe his own high school experience, like you asked him the same question back. He's interesting.
Chris is a "Return Missionary (Mormon, of course)". He came home after six months, instead of the usual two years. He said he just didn't want to do it. After all those years of growing up, he didn't feel like going right from high school to a strange land (South Carolina) and working 24 hours a day at studying scriptures and changing people's religion.
I said, "Well, you gave it a shot." I told him how I knew one guy who served a full mission but came home disappointed that the entire process kind of boiled down to manipulation. He said he worked it out to a complicated script and pattern of reasoning and it worked nearly every time. He said he was disappointed because it was more like selling a used car and less like connecting with people or even helping them. Chris said that was probably true, but that the manipulative part of it was the part he liked.
He said coming home from his mission was probably as much work as just staying on the full two years. He said the leaders in his mission would sit him down over and over and give him talks about how he wasn't just failing his mission, he was also failing as a role model for all his little brothers and sisters. When Chris continued to insist that his heart was simply not in it, his mission president pulled out the big guns and told him, "If I hadn't finished MY mission, I never would have met the people and made the connections I needed to make millions and millions of dollars." Luckily, the church had always taught Chris to value salvation over worldly wealth and the threat bounced off of him like sinners bounced off the bouyant belly of Naoh's Ark.
Chris still feels guilty. I really like him, though. I told him I would set him up on a date with my sister-in-law, except he didn't finish his mission and that just doesn't seem like it would go with the ideal fantasy that she is trying achieve with her life. No dice, Chris.
The Texan: one of my bosses. I don't think he means to be a jerk, he just sort of has a knack for it. When I can't duplicate the speed he has attained in 3 years of work within a few hours, he encourages me to work harder with key phrases such as: "You suck, again, Emmett."
He asked me about being Indian. He said, "Are you a reservation baby, Emmett?" I said no. I said I lived near the reservation for about 7 years but not on it. I told him that my father and little sisters live on the reservation. He asked, "Why?Because it's cheap?" in a jerk-tone. I said, "To make a difference, I guess. He's the first medical doctor in the tribe's history. He's managing the hospital the tribe built." And after so many questions that led up to that moment, that answer seemed to kill his curiousity. He just said "oh" and completely stopped talking to me. Maybe he just didn't like that the conversation didn't go where he thought it was. It is a little annoying to me that the conversation probably would have continued if I had answered something like, "Yeah. Dad just drinks all day in front of the television, waiting for his unemployment checks to show up in the mail."
I don't the Texan realizes how he comes across. I sense he's got some problems going on in his personal life that he doesn't talk about. He told me his wife graduated from the high school where my wife works a few years back, because she was having his baby. Sounds like a good starting point for a stressful marraige.
I notice all the girls and the old man do the crappy job that nobody likes almost everyday. So does the closet-gay guy. All the able-bodied men do the jobs that require fast-walking, heavy-lifting and high-reaching. I also notice that, despite the high percentage of polynesian and mexican workers, there are none that I know of in middle-management positions. The Texan was promoted from our team. He was one of the only white guys on our team before us new-hires arrived. The brown guys that trained him have two years experience over him but no promotion. The Texan also likes to encourage us to work hard by repeating over and over that it took him a year to be made a permanent employee. Another coworker clued me in that he leaves out a significant detail: The Texan accidentally crushed somebody's Mitsubishi Eclipse with a company delivery truck not long after he was hired on.
Maybe I just have a gloomy outlook, but I'm not expecting this job to take me places. The last thing I expect when I go to ANY job is justice or equality, all I want is money to pay for my basic needs and time to spend with my friends and family. It will do for now.