The OTHER side

A week ago I had the opportunity to visit a supremely large mega company (starts with an A and rhymes with camazon) and volunteer to wrap gifts to help raise funds for my friend who has her kids in gymnastics.  To my recollection, this was my first visit not only to the OTHER side of the tracks here in Phoenix but to a factory with a gajillion employees. The security was HIGH… like an airport with scanners and the wand in case you beeped going through the scanner… which I did, of course.  It was my big blingy watch.

There was quite the list of contraband items that could not be brought into the plant…. common items… purses, phones, food, jackets, backpacks, cameras, and drinks.  This did freak out my kids a bit as I didn’t answer my phone for five hours…. just like back in the olden days before cell phones.  What in the world did we do back then without constant access to our parents???

As volunteers, we were paid 75 cents per gift that we wrapped.  We were in the section for volunteers…. because we were volunteering.  Wrappers (not to be confused with rappers) stood in pods of six with our backs to each other… next to two conveyor belts.  The top one brought the boxes to us… the lower one we use to send the wrapped gifts on their merry way.  It was exactly like the factory where LaVerne and Shirley worked in Milwaukie.  Funny thing was… the other side of the conveyor belt were the paid employees… working slower than molasses in January after the front door’s been left open for six hours.  I found it all so interesting…. there was a huge chart on the wall with Star Performers, Rising Stars and Falling Stars…. with the NAMES of the people written right there for all to see.  It reminded me of the reading groups in first grade… the eagles, the bluebirds and the chickens.  Even the kids in the chicken group knew they weren’t eagles… and probably never would be.

A kind young lad was assigned to our area to refill anything we ran out of, namely, ribbon, paper and DVD covers.  After our first few encounters with this chap, we assumed he was either in the Falling Stars group or soon to be headed that way.  He was a few flapjacks short of a pancake breakfast.  At one point he came to the end of our row and asked if we wanted to see something funny.  No one said anything, so he proceeded to take down the sign from the end of our row that read “Volunteer Section.”  And he laughed and pointed at it…. as if to say, “Who would be stupid enough to volunteer to work here????”  None of us volunteers laughed.  The gal next to him kindly informed him, “We are volunteers.”  He was dumbstruck momentarily and then hung the sign back up and wandered off.  DOH!

Visiting the factory was a bit like going to the county fair.  Those who were not volunteers had a plethora of tattoos, piercings, missing teeth and baggy drawers.  It’s not often I realize how blessed I am simply to have a mouthful of teeth.  I thought this factory would be a good place to have my kids visit to see where they might end up if they don’t finish high school. 

Being the ever inquisitive person that I am, I found it fascinating to see what people were buying and sending to others at Christmas time.  There were also lots of Hanakah gifts.  My personal favorite was a book on how to butcher a pig and the card read, “Happy Hanakah!”  Hahahahaha!

To end this fascinating story… I wrapped 154 gifts in five hours… my friend wrapped 161.  But she was next to the conveyor belt and I had to walk back and forth each and every time.  She may have wrapped more gifts, but I could count the five hours as a cardiovascular workout.  :o)

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One Response to “The OTHER side”

  1. sandie Says:

    This happens at the local food bank as well! Great laughs! Thanks, Linda!

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