Thursday, May 24, 2007

Phone Book Factory

Sixth in a Series about my crappy former jobs

The most mind numbing job that I have ever had was the half summer that I spent working in a phone book factory. After my sweet demolition gig ended the temp agency sent me to work in a phone book factory.

I have never had job that made me feel like such a cog in a machine. My job consisted of standing at the end of printing press, when enough pages had come off, I would push a button and they would be bound into bundle about three feet long. I would then use a pneumatic claw that hung from the ceiling to pick up the bundle and stack it on to a pallet. I would the repeat this process for the next 12 hours.

Prior to this job I had never worked a 12 hour shift before, it was one of the hardest things that I have ever done. Doing the same repetitive thing over and over for thing long simply was mentally one of the hardest things I have done. I have a lot of respect for people who make their living with jobs like this one and no understanding how they do it.

One other thing that I remember clearly was going home at looking up where St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, having ever heard of it before, after spending days starting a phone books with St. Tammany Parish printed all over them. I remember this clearly because this was the first time I had ever heard of St. Tammany Parrish and within three years I would be buying my first house there. If you had told me then my name would be in latter edition of the phone book I was printing I never would have believed it.

Next Job: The Secret Nap Spot


VAfriend said...

It is amazing how things come around again to us. Like your name being in the very books you print.

If we could recognize the signs that may be all around us to help us interpret the future we would all be able to win the lottery...or at least not make all those stupid mistakes we have made!

gaelstat said...

Your post reminds me of the two summers I spent working at a schnapps factory in Berlin. Mind-numbingly repetitive work, for 8 hours at a stretch.

One of the coping strategies that the women who worked there fulltime had developed was, every Friday morning, (with the foreman's knowledge and implied consent), they would grab a few bottles of vodka, pour them into a plastic bucket, and soak their feet in the vodka. You can't imagine how relaxing it is unless you try it for yourself.

Anonymous said...

Ah, you poor soul. I was hoping that I had found another kindred spirit, as I actually put together the ads you see in the Yellow Pages (or at least, one of the books that is printed way out west, which shall remain nameless, as I fear their legal department).

I work for one YP company as an artist and I swear, I wish I were dead. I need the job because of health insurance, but there are days, after dealing with idiotic salespeople, callous managers who put in half a day and leave us to do their work (and we're union, for Chrissake!), outdated computers and software that can't open files sent to us by outside vendors, and customers who get abusive with you to your face (because you can't give them what they want with your outdated software and computers) that I just want to put the barrel of a gun in my mouth and pull the trigger to end the torture of having to walk intot he building in the morning. Every artist in the company wishes they were somewhere else, mostly because the job is a dead end in graphic design and because there is no chance of promotion without selling your soul and scooping out a portion of your brains to match those of your fellow managers. No one will listen to our concerns and the upper managerment of the company simply sits back and congratulates itself and gives itself a bonus, rather than solving any of the problems.

Oh, if only I was one of those German women in the schnapps factory - I think being an artist for the Yellow Pages would be a far easier and less stressful job if we were allowed to drink away the pain.