With Thanksgiving feasts on the near horizon, the deep coolers at my local King Soopers are packed with prime poultry. But where other shoppers pause and ask themselves “fresh or frozen?“, I peer in and think, “I wonder who made the bag that turkey’s tied in?”
Because in the summer of 1970, I was one of the people making said bags at Centerville’s Union Carbide plant. My AA degree from Centerville Community College wasn’t quite the ticket I’d hoped for finding the perfect job–or any job. And when Union Carbide began hiring–for $2.05 per hour–I jumped at the chance.
From 4 to 11 p.m. for the next several months, I ran machines that transformed long rolls of printed plastic sleeving into individual bags. Some were printed in German and would one day hold thuringer sausages. But my favorites were the brightly colored Butterballs.
Start the samples. Check for quality. Set the run. Lift the first 500 and turn them left; the second 500 and turn them right. Fill the box and begin again. Then feel the adrenalin as the quality checker starts your way with her clipboard.
I don’t remember the names of the helpful people I worked with except one–my cousin Bob Atwell. Bob could fix anything, and these machines had a way of needing a little assistance.
Every job we have gives us something beyond the paycheck. This one gave me time to consider where I wanted to go. And for that–on Thanksgiving and all days–I am grateful.