|A old-fashioned black typewriter|
Sure, she had worked before, doing the typical early-teen jobs of the time in Oregon--like babysitting and strawberry picking--but this would be her first, get-an-actual-check-at-the-end-of-each-week kind of job. She was dressed in the required uniform: the (soon to be not-) white apron; the oh-so-attractive hair net (topped off by the are-you-kidding-me hard hat); with the day-glow orange, squishy, yet strangely uncomfortable, earplugs in her hand, ready to be inserted once she entered the cannery.
She carpooled with some friends, and they arrived at the parking lot in the dark, in time for the 11 p.m. start of the graveyard shift. Entering the cold, cavernous building, they were corralled into the lunch room, where they went through the brief orientation ("Safety first, people!"), then were led out to their stations.
She and her friends were belt workers, which meant that for the next 8 hours, with the exception of one short break and a slightly longer lunch break (Can it even be called lunch at 3 a.m.?), they would be standing alone, one to a belt, watching the fresh-from-the-field beans go by, scooping out any non-bean as the endless sea of green rolled on to its next station. The mind-numbing monotony of the task (and believe me, you do not want excitement on the belt, because excitement comes in the form of [hopefully] dead rodents and snakes which need to be removed from the beans), combined with the dull drone of the machinery, was enough to convince her that an education was definitely a good thing; no way was she going to make this an eternal career.
Nothing convinces people to do the right thing like seeing first hand what's going to happen to anyone who refuses to play the gameReplyDelete
I didn't need much convincing! :-)Delete
Funny! I was just thinking of my first job at the cannery this week. I don't know what prompted that thought. I never worked on the belt. Instead I worked on the vertical back standing arm against arm with those beside me. This was in the days before ear plugs and hard hats, at least for my job. I agree that working at a cannery probably motivated many a person to seek high learning.ReplyDelete
What was the job on the vertical back? I "worked my way up" from that individual belt to a belt working next to people (cutting beets into smaller pieces, if I remember right), to filling cans, and then finally quality control (which was so much better, because I could walk around.) I was completely flabbergasted that there were "old" women (probably younger than I am now) who came back year after year to work graveyard on the belt!Delete
ah the third shift (even better, in a 'factory') an experience not that many people have had (going to work late at night, as you said, lunch at 3am and... one of the small pleasures, when the architecture permits...the growing light of dawn.)ReplyDelete
I love the show 'How It's Made' but every time, when Phyllis is watching with me, I will say, '8 hours a day' at any horrendously repetitive job function.
I haven't watched "How It's Made," but it sounds interesting--to watch for 30 minutes or an hour, not to spend 8 hours a day doing! :-)Delete
There's nothing like a dose of this to make you know you want to work your way up the ladder. Excellent six!ReplyDelete
I was surprised that there were "old" women who came back year after year to work graveyard on the belt. I knew that wasn't for me!Delete
I am amazed at your vivid description in your story.ReplyDelete
Nicely done! Instant memories summer after freshman year in college. I lived on campusReplyDelete
and a few of my friends got a job working 3rd shift in a nearby factory. "Come work with us Denise. We'll work all night then go to the beach all day". Uh, huh. I didn't last a month, lol. I think it takes a very special person to work that shift!
I can't believe I actually was able to work that shift; I value my sleep too much now.Delete
Thankfully I've never worked in a factory. I'd probably fall asleep standing from the monontony. I have though worked the graveyard shift and didn't much care for it but I liked the job and the people I worked with.ReplyDelete
Sometimes, my eyes would see the belt as stationary and I would have the sensation of moving. Weird, weird, weird.Delete
I spent my summer between high shcool and freshman year at college in a sweaty, hot, dirty, disgusting aluminum factory. One summer did it for me! Great memory jogger. Good six.ReplyDelete
Ooh, I can imagine the metallic smell! Probably as bad or worse than the smell when the cannery processed the pickled beets.Delete
My first "real for a paycheck" job was working the counter at a Roy Rogers fast food restaurant when I was in high school. Moved to the new Burger King when it opened the next year. I absolutely hated working in fast food. After that I did produce clerk in a supermarket where I learned many things about produce and many things about the bugs that come with produce. Banana spiders. That's all I can say.ReplyDelete
My third shift job in life was data entry for a major calendar company. Weird weird hours and schedule. But the quiet and relaxed atmosphere in the building? That was cool.
Yikes to banana spiders! I imagine the data entry job was very nice after that.Delete
Great six! Yuck to the (hopefully) dead rodents and snakes! I've worked nights before, and it's such a bizarre period to earn a living. As you wrote: "Can it even be called lunch at 3 a.m.?" Yay, my SSS was also about beans!ReplyDelete
Scooping animals off the belt was fortunately not an every night occurrence. Yuck is right! I'm off to read your Six Sentence Story now!Delete
Ash yes. Factory work highly motivated me to seek higher education.ReplyDelete
It's a great motivator!Delete