Slices of MY LIFE or That’s Why They Call IT A JOB

I had an experience last night that really moved me and I wanted to share it with you.

I work a night job in a warehouse environment. It is a different sort of work for me. I was in education and an academic setting until last November, 2011.

We work 4 days a week 10 hour shifts. That will increase to 50 and 60 hour shifts for the peak season between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

At the moment our company is hiring around 3000 temporary employees to get through the peak season. I’ve had the responsibility of training some of those new employees on the entire process of the work they are doing. That covers from how to be safe and not hurt themselves all the way through the process of doing their job effectively, efficiently and fast.  They need to be able to put a package on the line every 15 to 30 seconds depending on the size of the package.

Okay that’s all back story. Which I never start my books with (by the way) LOL.  You needed a frame of reference for this next part to make any sense.

So bottom line. Employees are on their feet for 10 hours working hard and fast. It is GRUELING work.

I have a girl whose feet hurt so bad by the end of the shift she is in tears. She continues to work, crying as she packs. She’s on her third day, third pair of shoes trying to find something she can tolerate. The last two days were shoes that weren’t wide enough for her foot. Her mom bought her new shoes to wear last night. Better but still by 4am she was miserable.

Another one of my trainees just found out she is pregnant. She’s running back and forth to the bathroom throwing up. She’s not going to make rate and will probably get laid off. Still, she’s not going to give up. She keeps trying to stick it out.

I have an older woman who can hardly walk by the end of the shift she’s in so much pain from standing for 10 hours while she works. She’s been in a sedentary job for some years, she’s my age. I know how much she hurts.

I have a younger kid who went home her first night. She was so exhausted she was throwing up. Now, at the end of her first week was working at 144%. She’s thrilled. She calls me over to look at her rate on the computer. I remark on how well she is doing.

I had another girl at the end of her first night passed out cold as a cod. She went down like a bucket of rocks. She hadn’t been drinking enough water and I believe she probably stood locking her knees which cut off the oxygen to her brain and she slam konked over. She hasn’t come back.

I had a trainee running to me tonight. Which elicited a “No Running” yell from me.  She called my name. “One of the girls is down in the bathroom and can’t get up.”

Oh dear gussy. I got to her and she says. “My knee just gave out and I fell down. Now I can’t get up.”  This girl is a “BIG” girl. emphasis on big.  It was her first night. The medics wheeled her out.

I was paired up with a co-trainer for this group of 18 recruits.  The first night all he did was hang out with the pretty girls and flirt with them.

We started the second night with me telling him “If you don’t carry your weight tonight, I’m gonna kick you in the ass.” My dominatrix side ordered him around for the next 10 hours, telling him what to do and when to do it to train and serve our recruits.

He told others in the break room that I “was being mean to him”. LOL

So sad, poor little willie. Big girl picking on him.

So that’s how it goes. We see things that scar our eyeballs. “OMG, a transgender blow up sex doll.  Amazing. ” or “Can you believe this guy is a best seller with a photography book about dogs underwater?”

I sit here with my own feet throbbing. Because those 18 new recruits have me walking back and forth between their stations all night long. I fix their machines, answer their questions, bring them boxes. I walk to the END of the pack line and pick up their mistakes to bring to them and show them how and why we can’t do things like this. I make them walk down to the end of the pack line to pick up their own mistakes when they realize they’ve made one.  They are so new they often don’t know they’ve made a mistake. Then, I’m walking back and forth to all of them to teach them more about their job. I’m walking back and forth to them to do safety audits on their behavior. And I’m walking back and forth…I think you get the point. I’m doing a whole lot of walking back and forth. Along with that I am talking with each and every one of them, explaining, problem solving. Talking until I am hoarse.

Basically I’m on MY feet for 10 hours and in constant motion. I walk for 10 solid hours with VERY little standing still.  The only time I get to stand still is when I’m filling out paperwork reports on their progress. I do that STANDING.

I’ll be taking a steaming hot shower when I wake up to turn around and do it all over again. I’ll be taking pain reliever BEFORE I start my shift so I can make it THROUGH my shift.

Then, when I leave the building I have guys come up to me asking “If I work really hard, do you think I’ll get to stay or do you think they will lay me off.”

People are desperate for a job.

Last year they started layoff’s even a couple of days before Christmas. Human Resources and security would come to your station and tell you to get your things and come with them. Security would take their badge and escort them from the building.

It’s harsh.

What will the future bring? I really don’t know what’s in store for me on the employment front. I know that I’m working for less than half the salary I had two years ago. I chose to leave that job for personal reasons and move to the mountains. I wasn’t able to find the same type of work here and ended up being one of those people wishing that they’s keep me if I worked really hard.

I’m still working very hard.

2 responses to “Slices of MY LIFE or That’s Why They Call IT A JOB

  1. Wow, Eden. I’ve got so many thoughts running through my head after reading this that I don’t know where to begin. I’ve never had to work a job like that. The closest “on my feet all day” job I ever had was in a department store. It could, and did, get crazy during the holidays, but I can’t recall anyone ever passing out or throwing up from it. But the majority of my working career has been desk jobs. While they come complete with their own hassles, I can be thankful they never did me any physical harm. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you that something better comes along….a big, fat writing contract would be nice. Best wishes!

    • I’ve thought about this a lot Maura and I’ll tell you what, I’ve seen a distinct generational difference. I’ve got some women who are tougher than nails. Unfortunately, some of the younger generation just don’t have a lot of work ethic and not much experience actually doing physical labor. My kids grew up working on the farm. They mucked stalls, fixed fence, threw hay bales around. If they said they were bored, they got a toilet brush and put to work.

      Tonight I challenged them to see who would be the last one standing. LOL. I’ve gotten used to the regular work. The training role is one I haven’t gotten to do as frequently as I would like. So, the nights I’m training people are a different kind of tired.

      In any event, it has built my respect for the blue collar factory worker.