Thursday, March 27, 2014

Job Security

In another life, I installed office furniture. It was modular, mostly from AllSteel, a product of Aurora, Illinois. On my first day of work, I was given a box knife and told that I needed to take all the file cabinets, chairs and desk tops from their cartons and stage them strategically about the IBM office complex where we had been deployed, like the Army Corps of Engineers, to construct a new hive for the busy bees that would eventually inhabit the cubicles we were busily building. Only I didn't do much building. Instead, I spent my day dealing with corrugated cardboard, shrink wrap, and dozens of plastic bags that held the treasure of furniture inside.
I never made it more than a few steps inside the building. Most of my time was spent unloading the truck, unboxing the raw materials, and then cutting up the empties and putting order to the chaos that I had made. In one box, I stuffed all the plastic. In another, I stacked the wooden slats that came at the bottom of every two or three drawer filing cabinet. There were a lot of those. As for the rest, I chopped up as much as I could to consolidate the mass of cardboard that had once surrounded all the furniture that was now becoming an office. I was pleased with the way the volume of the truck shrank as I busied myself about my work. This caught the attention of one of the leads on the job, and he anointed me "King of Trash." I found this appellation friendly enough, and it didn't occur to me that as the new guy, I would be master of that particular domain for some time to come.
What I did discover, was that there was a perk to being the monarch of rubbish. At the end of the day, if I drove the truck now laden with recyclable material, over to the scrap yard just a few blocks from our warehouse, I was paid a few extra dollars for my trouble. Not exactly a king's wages, but it allowed me to get extra pepperoni when I needed it.
Eventually, a new guy joined the crew, and I had to relinquish my title along with the box knife of which I had become so fond. But every now and then, I would volunteer for waste removal, just to keep my honor intact. And that extra three dollars in my pocket.

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