Saturday, August 1, 2009
My Day Job...
Come work a day or two with me; you'll look like this too.
Due to a surprising amount of curiosity as to what it is that I actually do for a living, I’ve determined that it’s time to divulge what keeps the lights on at The Command Bunker until such a time as someone out there decides to pay me to sit at home swilling coffee and writing my pithy, witty repartee all day. Just what, exactly, is my Day Job?
I moved to South Carolina from Maine at the end of my first marriage. One of my chief reasons was that I was really sick of being cold. However, on a daily basis I find myself in a situation where I am subjected to subzero temperatures, and shovel more snow, than I ever did when I lived in Maine. In fact, my friends still in Maine can stop complaining about winter, because for me, everyday is winter. Ironically, I moved here to be warm, and I work in a freezer.
I work for a major regional dairy corporation, specifically as the shipping clerk for the Ice Cream Department. I spend my days filling orders from our various branch locations by pulling from inventory and loading up pallets full of frozen delights for shipment. That’s the short version of it. The longer version……well…
I’m up at 5AM and out the door at 5:30 for my commute into Charleston. The drive in isn’t so bad, really, at least not till I get to the intersection of Dorchester Road and Bacon’s Bridge, where I start meeting up with The World’s Worst Drivers. Guys, I’ve driven in at least 30 states and 4 countries, and I’m pretty damned sure, the drivers in South Carolina are the worst I have ever encountered. I pull up to the entrance gate of the SC Ports Authority’s Veteran’s Terminal at about 6:45, and then the fun begins.
The various port terminals for the Port of Charleston. I'm on Veteran's Terminal. Most of the action is downriver from me.
Our freezer facility is indeed located on the old Navy base. In fact, you can Google Earth me at 32 degrees 51 minutes 08.31 seconds North and 79 degrees 57 minutes 13.94 seconds West. I have two freezers at an average temperature of -15°F, which is -26ºC. The coldest we’ve gotten the freezers was, no shit, -28.5ºF, or -33.6ºC. The coldest I’ve been at ambient air temperature was -30 in Bangor, Maine in January 1994, and the coldest with a wind chill was -30 on Christmas Day 1990 at Fort Riley, Kansas, but this is -15 all day, every day.
Each time the door opens, some warm, humid air gets sucked into the rafters, where it eventually freezes into snow. Yes, I step through a few inches of snow every day.
Granted, I’m not in there all day for 8-10 hours a day. Me and the other guy I work with (yeah, there’s only two of us) stay in for 30-45 minutes at a whack, and then come out for maybe 10 to warm up. Coming out of the freezer itself, I first step into a hallway called the Pre-Cool Room, which is a balmy 30 degrees. A few feet later, I’m outside facing the lovely Cooper River. On a day like this past Friday when temperatures hit 100, my body goes through a change of nearly 120 degrees in the space of 25-30 feet.
Right on the river, but I still get a wicked good view of the Garbage Incinerator too.
So after loading hundreds of items onto pallets for 8-10+ hours and shipping them out, I get to fight even worse traffic for anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours on the interminable commute home. I fight freezing temperatures, blazing temperatures, throw a few hundred 3-gallon tubs of ice cream and a few thousand pints and cones and half-gallons across a frozen room, I struggle through a sea of idiots to and from, and finally arrive home to hopefully write a little amusement for you guys. Summer is of course twice as busy as the off-season. Most nights lately I’m getting home in the 7:00 PM time frame. After a quick shower and some dinner, that ain’t much time to spend with Mrs. Steve and the dogs before bed.
It ain’t glamorous but it pays the bills.
So now you know. And this is why I don’t write as often as I’d like to.
The view outside my back door at work...