Situation Normal. Atmosphere Breathable. Brainstem Injected. Dialogue Engaged.
Friday, April 29, 2005

Seafood Forklift Science

I got sent to Elgin yesterday to troll about a warehouse. Every once in a while a certain massive Japanese corporation calls upon my company's services for more than just restaurant installation and repair. Sometimes they need us to steer their forklifts, build pallets of equipment, and inhale large quantities of floating dust.

Everybody who works where I do is required to spend a short time there. It's our new employee hazing, essentially. New chumps get sent there to learn about the hardware we install and to get a taste of the slimy attitude of our business partner.

I thought back to my last visit, my initiation. The employees there hated their jobs and themselves. They bitched and moaned all day long. They moped through their repetitive chores with no zest or humor. They wielded any petty authority they could seize like high school hall monitors.

It's been two years since I last visited there. Not much had changed. The usual cast and crew of whining maggots still festered there like gangrene in a piranha bite. They moped about sagging their shoulders and smoking their cigarettes with dismissive masochism.

I saw a new guy running about working with energetic abandon and apparent enthusiasm. I asked about him.

"Who's that guy?"

"Oh, that's a temp. We call him the Squidmaster. He'd stupid. A car fell on his head when he was teenager and he's not all there, if you get my drift. He's been here for two weeks now."

I looked over. The Squidmaster was shrink wrapping a pallet, whistling, and smiling. I could not detect any obvious scarring or denting on his bald head. As the day wore on I noticed that people designated their shit work to him.

Personally, I love shrink wrapping skids. I get to run around in circles until I get slightly dizzy. Then I feign losing my balance. I feel younger than myself when I wobble back and forth. The others hate this chore.

"Hey Squidmaster! El Squiddo! Front and center baby! This one is naked and she's waiting for you! Wrap 'er up!"

He cheerfully accepted their commands, oblivious to the condescension. I wondered how long he'd last before the hateful atmosphere would sink in and destroy his happiness.

Later in my day he caught me shrink wrapping a tall skid of boxes.

"Ju no, eef yo no wanna rappa tha squid, I do it fine!"

I shook his hand. He was surprised. I was probably the first.

"I'm Steve. I like wrapping them. Thank you for the offer, though, I appreciate it. Nice to meet you."
7:45 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm


April 29, 2005 8:09 AM, Blogger Kerouaced said...

As usual good stuff. I think you could really piece together the different subjects you write about into a book or books. Have you thought of trying that?

April 29, 2005 8:13 AM, Blogger Anonysis said...

Ahhh.....ignorance really can be bliss.

April 29, 2005 8:21 AM, Blogger Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm said...

Steve, a little bit. I'm still trying to decide whether to try some sort of collection / diary or if I should give a novel a shot.

The thought of publishing has really tickled my cranium a lot lately.

Sis, He was my favorite guy there. Very cool fella.

April 29, 2005 8:25 AM, Blogger Other Brother said...

When I worked at the bowling alley there was a lane attendant there who still wore diapers. He was 22. Good guy, great attitude, had a mullett. But they let him go because of the smell.

April 29, 2005 12:21 PM, Blogger EcamirG said...

my favorite part of working in a warehouse (the only part i liked) was wrapping palettes.

the fact that people exist who do not enjoy this activity gives me pause.

April 29, 2005 1:34 PM, Blogger ty bluesmith said...

i have a steve style hang/over. ouch.

April 29, 2005 2:18 PM, Blogger Wardo said...

Poor "Skidmaster!" Leave it to the warehouse trolls to boss him around. They'll use up their whole life there.

I liked wrapping skids too. Also, whipping out my Exact-o and slashing the plastic off. The dressing, then the denuding.

One time, we cut the wrap off this skid of new cookies, this great new brand that nobody else had tasted...naturally, the knife "accidentally" opened one of the bags, so we had no choice but to eat them. We frisbeed the ones we couldn't eat at the wall, laughing at the dusty detonations, and then we placed a full bag beneath the elevated skid, and released the air, pancaking the bag. We cheered. Nothing is more decadent than mutilating tasty food. Jumping on cream-filled donuts is particularly good. "Let's have a donut race!" we'd yell, and measure the distance the donut-jizz would spurt.

Those were the days. I have a way better job now though, looking at papers. When I am done, they are filed. It's almost as fun.


April 29, 2005 2:36 PM, Blogger Other Brother said...

One time I was working in a warehouse for a certain Lite beer company. My clumsy co-worker dropped an entire pallet of 30-packs from about 15 feet up.
We were forced to stay late and repack what we could. The rest we took home.

April 29, 2005 2:37 PM, Blogger if_i_had_a_hammer said...

i used to work in a warehouse for an italian food distributor when i was a teenager, lugging around blocks of mozzarella and cases of tomato sauce. my cousin was the warehouse manager, a big burly guy with a loud mouth and a good heart, no one fucked with him. being the boss' cousin got me equal amounts of ridicule and respect. every manager of every restaurant we delivered to knew my cousin, so i ate like a king whenever i went out on the trucks. the drivers loved having me along.

they used to call us 'get-gos' because when the higher-ups would send down the bills from the airconditioned office upstairs, it was our jobs to 'go get it.'

i sometimes worked 12 hour days in the sticky brooklyn summer heat, made more money than i'm making now in my grown up job, and speed-smoked cigarettes and slept in the refridgerator whenever i had free moments.

April 29, 2005 2:42 PM, Blogger EcamirG said...

oh man, argus, yes. slicing that stuff open, especially with a brand new blade.


April 29, 2005 6:29 PM, Blogger ty bluesmith said...

okay. i've recovered enough to comprehend your words. the pirana [sp? i don't now how to spell that word] bite stuff was very well/worded. furthermore, the humanity at the end was a cool breeze of air thru this nihilistic, sarcastic and rude sphere.

All in all, a valiant effort and an accomplishment to be proud of; immediately Pony's post about giving homeless men her money when she was a child came to mind.

Good show, old boy.

Pip Pip.

April 29, 2005 7:41 PM, Blogger simpleton said...

You don't saccarinize your stories.

Very well balanced, very good.

April 30, 2005 1:20 AM, Blogger karen gsteiger said...

Hey, thanks for stopping by my blog today. V. nice site, btw. I second the props given to the line about "the gangrene in a pirahna bite." Nothing makes my day like a vivid and unexpected simile.

I especially enjoyed the story below about the Virgin Mary at Fullerton, since I too have been caught up in that mess. What message does the Blessed Virgin have to impart to the Chicagoland area? I dunno...but she's not helping traffic.

Anyhoo...I'm glad I got an opportunity to check out your site...

Have fun!


April 30, 2005 11:41 AM, Blogger Mishka said...

I have never worked for a warehouse, but I used to throw freight at night for a retailer I worked at during the day. I always enjoyed cutting the tape on a box the long way and then punching the box to open the gratifying...

April 30, 2005 5:52 PM, Blogger Latigo Flint said...

You move me Steve, do you know that?

May 01, 2005 9:51 PM, Blogger You've Got What I Need... said...

It's like this, who'd you rather be? Which is the best question ever. It's simple but perfect. Being able to choose your demons and curb-kick the rest and all that.

I dig this post, Steve.

May 02, 2005 9:39 AM, Blogger Other Brother said...

Your latest entry sparked my interest, so I went out into the warehouse to see if any Squidmaster-types were working here. Imagine my shock when I saw that not only was everyone in the shipping department relatively competent, but that the whole dizzying process of wrapping pallets had become obsolete. The Squidmaster has been replaced by a machine. One of those funhouse-type spinning disks that you place the pallet on. The only thing an operator must do is hold the plastic wrap. Where's the fun in that?

May 02, 2005 11:39 PM, Blogger Mokuyobi said...

wrapping squid sounds like an awesome job. Way better than like, working at Denny's or something. Do you really like to wrap squid or were you just being polite?

May 03, 2005 11:35 AM, Blogger Bookfraud said...

i've spent time in a warehouse and work now in a place with a large mailroom, and it seems like these are the places for people like poor squidmaster. i don't know what's more heartbreaking -- the loss of one's brain, essentially, or the fact he's never going to be aware of everybody's condescension. i knew a brilliant lawyer who was in an auto accident in his mid 50s, and basically turned his brains to mush. it can happen to you.

November 22, 2005 11:06 PM, Blogger The Best Cat Trees said...

Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm, Been looking on the web for the latest information on cat urine - saw your site clicked on it.Found Seafood Forklift Science, maybe not a perfect match - but found it interesting anyway.. off to look for cat urine..


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