Monday, May 30, 2011

On Working Stand-Up

I was recently asked if I'd like to work eight hours at a light industrial factory. I'd turned it down once or twice before, but feeling that a few extra bucks rarely hurts and curious how I'd do working a stand-up job, opted to give it a try.

Like most factory jobs, this one wouldn't be complicated; it consisted of putting product into a cardboard package. There was a bit of a time constraint to it as the product would be coming down an assembly line. I was a tad nervous as I was shown what to do. You needed to fold the packaging in a certain way in order for the product to properly fit. I struggled the first few times and had visions of episodes of "Undercover Boss" where the head of the company couldn't do the most piddling jobs.

Thankfully, for my ego's sake, I was able to get the gist of it and was placed along the line with six others. No music played as we worked, but neither was the environment very noisy from the machinery. I enjoyed hearing the conversation that took place as we worked. The man I was working opposite was looking forward to taking a trip to Vegas. As a joke, I asked if he planned to see Manilow.

He said, "That's not a bad idea".

This guy that just graduated high school had only two things on his mind: a kickball tournament coming up and boos. He went on and on about the different combinations of alcohol that gave him the most pleasure and told a co-worker that if he went out with him that night, he'd help him get laid.

My feet started to ache about three hours into the shift. I asked a lady who'd worked there before what she did for pain. She said she always took a couple pain pills partway through the shift. She also explained to me the difference between ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Perhaps the high school boy used boos as a pain nullifier instead of going the more conventional pill route.

At lunch time, a couple men in their 50's talked about how they could only handle working there a couple days a week, that the standing and repetitive motion was just too hard on their body otherwise. Being able to sit during that time was a blissful thing. I even went one better by going out to my car for a few minutes where I took my shoes off and massaged them against the brake pedal.

My back started to ache in the early afternoon. I would fidget this way and that trying to find a more comfortable position. And all the while, the product kept coming. One thing I'd forgot about was the camaraderie that many blue-collar workers have. We were all in the same boat, all doing our time for a few dollars more.

The last break was a nice reprieve as we got 20 minutes instead of 15 because of an older gentlemen that was retiring from the white-collar area. I smiled and clapped as they toasted a man I'd never met before. The cake tasted better, I'm sure, that it would've had I not worked my ass off for the past seven hours.

When the machines shut off an hour later, I was exhausted, but happy that I'd tried something new. Life, as they say, begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Picture Pages

With not much to blog about of late, I thought it'd be a good time to write clever captions for photos I've recently scanned. Enjoy:

"He wasn't this fat when I married him."

Slick Willy and Bill Clinton

"Why does everyone laugh when I tell them my name is Tom Dick?"

"I'm missing hearing my favorite author speak so that I can walk you down the aisle. This marriage had better last."

"Brandy, you wanna get up? I'm gettin' a hard-on."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Happy Times RV Center

With the celebration of my dad and his 2nd wife's 25th anniversary less than two weeks away, I thought it'd be a good time to go back to before they were married, to when they were merely business partners.

In the early 80's, they created a company that rented Recreational Vehicles (RV's) to people who wished to have all the pleasures of RV'ing without having to actually own one. I can personally attest that there are few things grander than being able to evacuate while in motion. No having to stop at dirty gas stations. No man in the next urinal trying to see how big (or small) my package is. As long as you don't mind a lot of shaking and hardly enough room to work with, it's quite the treat.

Dad's business gave us the opportunity to make some bucks, mostly by cleaning the RV's.

On most occasions, girls did the cleaning on the inside while the boys did the outdoor stuff, kinda like the arrangement my wife and I presently have. One of the lessons you really wanted to pay attention to is when he showed us how to empty the solid waste that had accumulated in the vehicle into a drain. If you didn't snap that hose on tight enough, you were gonna be in deep shit.

I can still remember one of the peptalks he gave us that summer (1984). He took one of the 3-foot brushes, dipped it into the soapy water, and gave it his all as he worked to remove the dirt that had collected on the vehicle. As he did so, he said, "You gotta get IN there". My brother, Matt, regurgitated the phrase when he felt it would be helpful to us. A brillo pad was used to clean the tires.

On one warm afternoon, my youngest brother, Mike, was getting frustrated that Matt wasn't pulling his weight, so said, in a very frustrated tone, "Work!!" Overall, the work wasn't too taxing and there was a lot of horse-play (spraying each other with the hose, most notably). Doing the front of the RV was typically the hardest as there would be dozens of bugs that needed to be sprayed off.

Perhaps the most pleasant memory of that summer were two of my stepmom-to-be's grandchildren. Dressed in similar-looking tops and shorts, they were very close to my age, good-looking, and mighty serious when it came to doing their jobs. They had no fear of washing the outside of the vehicles and there were a number of moments when I wished that I could be the rear section of a recreational vehicle, if only for a few minutes.

They had this weird thing going where they would leave their shoes untied all day. It happened too much for it to be an accident. They were asked about it once, but didn't make any adjustments. That kind of thing just made them seem all the cooler.

Once an RV had been completely cleaned, my dad drove it to a gas station located a few miles away to fill it up. This also ensured that it was still running smoothly. We sometimes accompanied my dad during this trip, enjoying the air conditioning and listening to a few tunes (my dad was a big fan of country at the time, but sometimes let us listen to pop music).

Though Happy Times RV no longer exists, it brought a lot of smiles to a lot of souls over the years. Happy Anniversary, Dad.