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I know I have been talking hto dogs pretty much non-stop snce mid May, but can you blame me? I work six days a week, and five out of six are ten hours and the sixth (the overtime, I-shouldn't-have-to-be-here day) can get up to eigth hours. I am slightly obsessive now. Within a week, I had a very wierd, hot dog infilterated dream in which Remus Lupin decided to excersize his ass muscles by, and I really did dream this, cranking up the machine in his ass which looked decidedly like the machine we use to pacvkage the five pound pushcart franks. And this was after only a week. I just finished week six. Sometimes I get flashes of factory in the middle of my one day off or when I am trying to do somethine (anything) else. Liek I'll be puting a book back on a shelf, but it will be just the right angle to fill my head with images of the tubs of two-pounds I have to slide into a truck. I can not wait until I leave.

That is not to say I am particularly thrilled about all the home-tme I will have come August. Like all people my age and of my circumstance (almost, but not quite, post-college), I am having trouble with my parents. Don't get me wrong -- I am no whiny, selfish Rutgers yuppie who thinks that my parents' years of self-sacrifice should be repaid with contempt. Far from it, I am always to first to admit that They are usually right in the Us (twenty-somethings and under) V. Them (Parentals Units). They DO, in fact, know best. They HAVE, unbelievabley, lived all this stuff we're going through. So, YES, they have every right to dispense wisdom. But I have heard from my mother pretty much undiluted warn me against co-dependancy for well nigh twenty one years. I get it. I will strive not to be co-dpenedent. Self-sufficiency is paramount. Coming through loud and clear. Yep. We can move on now.

I am aching to go back to school. I miss my dorm room with a passion. I miss my classes. I am never so happy as when I can stay up until tomorrow with reading and studying and then wake up a zombie the next day and have to get thourhg eight classes. That is an effort I feel the result from. I feel myself gaining nothing from this factory but the sense that life is unfair no matter who or what profession you are stuck in, from celebrity to lowly hot dog stuffer. (The celebrity referece was incited by a sighting of Keanu Reeves at Shakespear in the Park last night. Maggie and Alexis both went nuts and Maggie demanded we track him across all the lines of people trying to get in the theatre and then spied on him again during intermission. Honestly. You send a girl to Oxford and these are the manners she comes back with? Juuuust kidding, I was just as guilty. I mean, Hello! It's Ted S. Preston Esq. in the flesh.)

So ths entry -- ramble much? My state of mind these days leaves a little to be desired. All will be well come August. Five more weeks and I can function again.
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I have failed to tell you all of a most interesting factor in my factory work. I have said that there is a clear and decisive racial divide. Polish on one side, Hispanic on the other, and all the other oddballs (mostly Croatian and one "American Girl" as they call me) kind of hover in between. It is very difficult to cross this Polish/Hispanic barrier. Just the language is insurmountable. None of the Polish people speak Spanish or vice versa. What they can do is communicate through broken English, a language which maybe four of them actually claim to be able to speak. So, while there is a general atmosphere of acceptance and comaradery, every now and then the race difference escalates an already volatile situation, like the time all the Polish women were on the side of a women who had her jacket stolen and all the Hispanic women were against her on the basis that she was rude enough to deserve it. So, the end this extremely long preamble: race matters. It is the first thing they asked me when I appeared in their midst. Not my name, my race.

DESPITE all this, there is a budding cross-racial romance. This alone would normally be enough to peak the entire department's interest, ut there are two additional factors which have everybody behaving a bit like paparazzi and policing the two lovebirds interaction. The woman in question (Isabella) is about forty, blonde, absolutely beautiful, Polish, and (here's the stinger) married. The man (Sergio) is Puerto Rican, grumpy, extremely hot, strong, and maybe twenty at most. Sergio actually gets a ride with my benefactress as well every morning, but he refuses to say more than three words in English at a time. I assume he KNOWS more than three words in English because I see him chatting with Isabella in the factory and it definiately ain't in Polish or Spanish. They have REPORTEDLY been seen kissin in the parking lot, and I can report with my own eyes that they often hold hands under the table while we "clean" the hot dogs. He often will drop whatever work he's supposed to be doing to rush to lift something heavy for her or help her with something mundane. They stare at each other across the machinery sometimes and both blush. It's very sweet, as far as I can see. My fellow workers don't have my liberal point of view, though. Diana, a not-so-strict Catholic (she says she could have bribed her priest in her hometown in Croatia to do just about any ceremony for her, though she is technically a bastard according to their doctrine), told me they make her sick. Most of the people I have talked to about it have expressed similar sentiments. And they get mocked at evey oppurtunity. But, I am happy to say, they persevere.

Next week on Hot Diggety Dog Theatre: Women's Liberation in the Hot Dog Factory

Juuust kidding. That's a work in progress. We'll see how far I get with that idea in the next six weeks. Oh, at the end of these six weeks, I will be in glorious freedom! Freedom!
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Thousands of hot dogs later and I'm still here. I actually like this job now. Not the job itself, obviously, and not the hours. But these are great people. I wish somebody would make a better option fr people like them instead of just coming to America and spending twenty or thirty years in a miserable factory for the sake of your children or significant others. Everyone I've talked to save one or two is working here to create an opportunity for their children to do something better, which is a much nobler sentiment than I'm used to encountering. Maybe I'm jaded, maybe my whole generation is, or maybe just my social sphere. But these people are such GOOD people. They're unnaturally patient and good-spirited. My mormor (Norweigan for mother's mother) used to say, "People can get used to anything, even hanging." I see what she meant here. And I've learned some stuff very worth the space in my head. Spelling I don't know, but my Croatian friend Diana (who is 21, but she left her country at the beginning of the year to follow her American-Croatian husband back to America, thus abandoning her college career for, as she says, "working in a freezer") taught me to say, "Moyah leija boleh" (spelling be damned, in any language) which is Croatian for "My back hurts." Also "Ne Isnam" = "I don't know" and other such gems.

I've already made a thousand bucks in only half a month. It's money I worked hard for and i am proud of it, but I still can't wait to finish at the end of July. I count days.

Oh -- a good Spanish phrase I learned: "Cuidado! Mantenga las manos fuera de la maquina!" = "Caution! Keep hands out of the machine!"
It says that right next to a little opening in a hot dog machine which everybody sticks their hands into. I memorized it as I spent a good five hours sticking little nutrition labels into the opening. Very ironic. :-)

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August 2012

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