Monday, October 30, 2006

I worked 3rd shift in a factory the summer between high school and college

During the summer between graduation and freshman year of Calvin I got a job at a local factory, hoping to make lots of money before going off to school. Again, based on my dad's advice I applied at the factory and also indicated that I would prefer to work 3rd shift since I would be paid a shift premium (higher wages for the crazy folks that work 3rd shift). And I was hired.

Luckily my friend, Rodney (or as I soon began to regularly call him, Penis) also got a job at the same factory working 3rd shift. I don't even remember how we figured that out, but it was nice. We weren't great friends before this, but good enough friends that we decided to drive the 30 minute commute together. And me and Penis became good friends because of it:)

We worked on different lines. I don't remember what he did, but every evening I reported to my line which consisted of me and 3 other people. Our line was shaped like an open-ended oval and we were physically close to each other. Working together like that for 8 hours every night meant that we talked a lot - even over the noise of the factory. We talked about everything.

Jamie was a 40-ish husband and father of a small child. He wanted to be a writer. Writing was his passion, but the factory was how he made money. He told me about the books he wanted to write. I encouraged him. I was 18 and encouraging him to follow his dreams. After I left for Calvin we stayed in touch for a year or so - maybe longer. We wrote letters. I encouraged him to write his book, he encouraged me to find a boyfriend.

Mary was a 20-ish hairdresser. She cut hair out of her home, but the factory was how she made ends meet. She was bubbly, loud and fun. She cut my hair after I was at Calvin for a while and it will forever be known as "my bad haircut" and I blamed the bad haircut for every bad thing in my life. Truthfully, I think she did exactly as I wanted, but I shouldn't have wanted what I wanted. Mary and I did not stay in touch (and not because of the bad haircut;).

As you can imagine we talked about everything in our lives, but we also got very, very goofy. One night Jamie ate a banana at break and somehow the Chiquita sticker made it back to our line (you know - the sticker with the Chiquita lady on it?). We played a game for the rest of the night, hiding the sticker on the machines and yelling as loudly as we could, "Chiquiiiiiita Woman. Where are you?!" It passed the time very well and we laughed a lot.

I don't have many other specific memories of my time working at Prince, but my general memory is happy. My body got accustomed to the hours. It wasn't miserable. It wasn't awful. It sure helped to have a friend to drive there and home with - especially when we were so tired in the morning.

But lets all admit that working in a factory for 8 hours a day for 3 months is nothing compared to working in a factory for 8 hours a day indefinitely. I was biding my time. I had an end date in sight. I knew it would end. I knew it wasn't going to be forever. Most of our coworkers did not - this was their lives.

I don't know what happened to Jamie and Mary. I wish I did. Perhaps they've moved on. Perhaps they're still working at Prince 12 years later. Who knows, but I will remember them and our time together. They, too helped shape who I am, and I am better for knowing them and for working there.

What has been the most monotonous job you have ever done - you know, the kind of job that never seems to have an end in sight and never seems like you're accomplishing anything (besides laundry, of course)?

getting to know me in 100 days - day 18


heidi jo 12:26 AM  

OK... i can skip the rest of the story but MUST know why you started calling your friend by that, well, UNUSUAL nickname. (did you REALLY think we'd let that slide by without question?)

i am not 3:26 PM  

Heidi -
remember back to high school/college... sometimes when talking to someone you want to say "You're such a jerk." But instead, you say something much more derogatory and vulgar... well, instead of saying the derogatory/vulgar thing, I just said the correct anatomical thing.

And what do you mean you can skip the rest of the story - are you saying the rest of the story is boring;) Wait until you read today's post...

heidi jo 10:33 PM  

i didn't mean your story was boring! ha ha! i meant.. i can get past it with too much "ta' do" - nothing to get onto you about.... but how in the world could i miss that one! ha ha!

no one could write a story about a friend called "penis" and think we'd just breeze by it without question... i can't believe no one else has commented on this yet! come on - are you all crazy?

kkoois 11:06 PM  

i loved that haircut! is that jana or a boy?!

i am not 10:50 AM  

Heidi- I think its fairly obvious why no one else commented on that - they were bored to tears from the post and fell asleep before they could get to the comments link;)

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