Last night wrapped up my first full week of working on the dock, after a half week of orientation, classroom training and two nights of loading with my trainer at my side. Being a package handler is not an easy job. I was warned in advance that I would be extremely sore for the first couple of weeks, but I'm a little surprised at just how and where I'm sore. My hands, for instance, are swollen and when I wake I can barely move them. My fingers feel fat and rigid from gripping heavy packages. I am also severely bruised up and down my legs. I'm hoping that taking an iron tablet daily will help with that.
One thing that surprised me my first week, was how young most of my coworkers are. Ten to fifteen years younger, the bulk of them. Many of them are young men, fresh out of high school making use of the tuition reimbursement program. Some are young ladies, doing the same. Many of the younger girls often show up with a full face of make up, wearing very revealing clothing which is something I do understand, though it strikes me as silly. I might have done the same at their age. There are a few women my age or older, but it's not common. There are even fewer older men, or men my age. I wonder if it has to do with the strangely large amount of managers running around in their very early twenties. I admit that I found myself struggling with the idea of taking orders from men who are scarcely older than my own sons. I've had to be particularly careful to eradicate words like, “kiddo,” or “youngin'” from my mindset when referring to them.
|My legs are taking a beating, but it's not as painful|
as it looks!
My job (if you are wondering) is to stand inside the back of a truck, grab packages that come down a chute, scan them and load them. It may sound rather simple, but there's a lot involved. They want you to be fast. They want you to be safe and they want you to be efficient with space. The packages can be extremely heavy and they can pile up on you if you don't keep up a good rate. You will be written up for loading carelessly or for missing scans. Safety is not something to be taken lightly, either. I dealt with a minor injury on Wednesday when I unstuck a package jam and had hundreds of pounds of boxes cascade down the chute at me (this is a common event). One large box hit me in the side of the leg and wrenched my knee in the wrong direction. I did feel a tendon pop, but it wasn't painful. I knew it wasn't serious, but that I needed to be very careful with it or it would be. After babying it for the last few days, I feel like it's fully healed.
This past week, they have been giving me several trailers of my own to load, and I am literally running from one to the next, hopping in and out (the trailers sit two feet off the ground) loading the packages as quickly as I can, before running to the next. I really do enjoy the physical work which I feel is a combination of high impact aerobics and weightlifting. I love that by the time I punch out my clothes are sweat-soaked from my neck to my thighs. It's brutal, but it suits me. I feel proud that after only seven days of working on the dock, I'm not only keeping up with the men, I am surpassing people who have worked there for several weeks. Management seems to love me.
Last night my operations manager took me aside and presented me with an MVP of the week award. It was... quite complimentary. I'm glad that they appreciate a hard worker, and don't mind engaging in a bit of mutual ego-stroking. Still, it left me feeling awkward, like a corporate kiss-ass, and I'm glad he didn't give it to me in front of my co-workers – even if they'll put it up on the awards board and put my name in the company newsletter... Not bad for an old mama!
The children are adjusting very well. My teens don't give me (hardly) any grief about taking on new chores. My first night of work, one of them went into the kitchen and cooked dinner, without being asked. The second night, the other did it and they've been trading off ever since. I also haven't had to wash any dishes. I'm really proud of them for stepping up, even though there have been a few arguments, I mean, it's not perfect, they are still kids. I can tell they're really proud of me. One thing which I wish this experience to instill in all of my children is a strong work ethic. If they grow up remembering how hard both of their parents worked to put bread on the table, they will understand what is expected to make it in the world and not be afraid to throw themselves into it.
Photo Credit: Cobalt123
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