The second article from a forthcoming series about my job experiences, as much as I can remember from them that is. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the events that unfold and turn me into who I am today.
Check out Job Search, I, the first article in the series.
$7.35 wasn’t much, but I didn’t expect much.
My first few weeks at Wayne Nell’s were a learning experience for sure. I had to meet many more people that weren’t very kind — at first that is. They were the seasoned veterans — the people that had been working there for decades. The way they initially treated me was a sort of hazing and initiation. I was low on the totem pole, and the clean up guys were treated as such. We didn’t have much say, but we didn’t deserve much being immature 16 and 17 year olds.
The most memorable person was a taller man with graying hair in his early 50s. He had the driest humor of anyone I had ever met. I had no clue how to take him. I was never sure if he was serious or just saying something to pick on the new guy. At first, I despised him. He always seemed rude and mean. One day I walked in to work wearing a breast cancer shirt I bought when I played 8th grade football. The first thing he said to me when I walked onto the floor from the room where we clocked in was, “Hey, Pinky!”
“Pinky” stuck with me for a number of months. It probably would’ve been a lifelong nickname but I never made the mistake of wearing that shirt again to work. They eventually moved on from the nickname, mainly because of all of the other nicknames I received as I grew in seniority on clean up. There were so many nicknames at the shop that I could write a whole article for this series explaining them. I’m getting ahead of myself though.
The first thing that needed done every evening when I came in at 4 was to grab a royal blue, body-length apron and slide on my black rubber boots. I would go to the “kitchen” and start filling up a shiny metal cart that would otherwise hold about 250 pounds of ground beef. I would throw in a healthy amount of Dawn dish liquid and a splash of bleach. The water had to be as hot as possible without hurting our hands. Me and the two other guys would start scrubbing the things the guys out front had used that day. Things like: lugs (18x30x12 bins used to store meat), long burger trays, metal trays, buckets, and other metal carts. If scrapple (look it up if you’re not familiar 😉 haha!) was made that day, we would clean the huge pot and stirrer used to make that.
At about 5:30, the clean up guy with highest seniority would hook up the pressure washer and begin pressure washing the entire processing area from top to bottom. The second highest seniority would clean the 3 band saws and 2 grinders. As for me, at the time, I stayed back in the kitchen and scrubbed the rest of the equipment. After that was finished, I gathered all the trash and scraps and piled the bags on the end of the loading dock to take out later.
At about 6:30 everyone was gone but three clean up guys. Not even someone to supervise was left. Supervision was left to the clean up guy with most seniority. At the time he was 18.
Not to downplay the severity of the rest of my work, but possibly the most disgusting part was spraying out the barrels and trash cans. Inside them was blood, scraps of fat and many other unknown, unrecognizable items. There was almost nothing to do about the back spray from the barrels but to get a shower immediately after getting home.
Everything was stacked in the store room and the trash got taken out to the dumpster. The cardboard from the boxes was broken down and then recycled.
I was finishing up my kitchen work when the owner walked in the side door. He walked throughout the shop looking for something he had forgotten when he went home.
“Hey! Where’s everyone at?!” The owner yelled towards me.