Jobs, Part 6: Sanitation & Labor, Matrix Essentials

Sanitation & Labor, Matrix Essentials: See, it’s a good thing I started doing this because I completely forgot about this job when making my initial list. In reality, this entry should come before Revco, as it was the Summer before, between my Freshman and Sophomore years of college. Besides (almost) forgetting about this job, I also cannot for the life of me remember what my position was called, so I’m referring to it by the two jobs I did the most – sanitation and labor. Sounds exciting, eh? Here’s the deal.

I had my fill of bagging groceries at Heinen’s and decided to do something different upon my return home from my first year of college. I believe my Dad knew somebody in management at Matrix, and I got hired on along with a few other college kids for the Summer. They all ended up in office-type jobs, but I ended up on the floor of the bottling facility.

The shift started at 6:30am and ended at 3:30 with an hour lunch. It was my first experience with such an early wake-up call, as well as the food truck that came around during breaks and lunches. I quickly became enamored with the fact I could get a hot slice of pizza at 8am. I’m not saying my view of the world changed, but it was pretty awesome. What was not awesome was the job itself, which consisted of three main duties:

#1. Dump boxes of empty shampoo bottles into the hoppers, which were large metal containers that funneled the bottles onto the line to be filled.

#2. At the end of the line, arrange the completed boxes of shampoo bottles on the pallet and then shrinkwrap for the circling forklift to take away.

#3. Pick up all empty boxes, bags of garbage and any other trash and feed it into the compactor.

There were other random jobs like sweeping up after spills and stuff like that. The lines never stopped, so it was fast paced and hectic. There was no downtime, so if you had to go to the bathroom, it had to be on one of the 15-minute breaks or lunch. There was no going to the bathroom during a shift.

A lot of 40 and 50-year old women worked the line, and they took a shining to an introverted college kid trying to keep their hoppers full and pallets clear. On my last day, a number of them brought in cakes and cookies, and it was easily the best last day I ever had in my life. Otherwise, this was a rather unremarkable job in only that the lesson learned was not to end up working in a factory. It’s not fun, and those who do have a tough job. It’s usually filled with lots of hot machinery, lots of phyical work that drains every ounce of energy out of you. I had a girlfriend at the time, who was also home for the Summer, but we barely saw each other as I was exhausted by the time I got home each day. We broke up that Fall, and not too long after, my automotive pride and joy, the ’68 Cutlass, which I had driven to work all Summer, would soon be gone as well.

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