I had called my father's cousin, Jimmy, an influential guy, at the time for a job. I was washing cars at Enterprise for $9 an hour, and I had just graduated with my B.S. in Criminal Justice. I knew I was underpaid. Shit, I had my degree. But this is the Summer of 2007, a little over a year before I wouldn't have been underpaid. That a degree wouldn't mean shit.
And so I made the call, and found myself driving 25 minutes south to the Wilmington, DE seaport.
I found myself in a job I'd never imagined even existed.
Once a month, a truck would dock and unload about 30 boxes, each weighing give or take 900lbs of CDs. As in compact disks. And their cases. Albums that no one gave a shit about like Steely Dan, Silverchair, Alanis Morisette, and Ricky Martin. These CDs all came from Asia, and our job was to literally crush it up and sell it back to Asia to make...
And my father's cousin Jimmy told me, before I drove down to that wretched part of the American Midatlantic coast line known as New Castle, Delaware, that there'd be, and I quote, "management potential." And this is way before I could easily detect a lie.
And let me just tell you what management potential looked like. It looked like three dudes in a hot warehouse, one guy shoveled the CDs from a top a large machine and onto a conveyer belt, literally with a rake, and into a furious feeder chopper machine that grinded all the stupid Michael Boltons and John Denvers into fine powder. The next guy would put that fine powder through a complex chemical process which in theory would turn it all back to plastic. The third man, he'd sort it all, making sure the final product was nothing but white, and hence pure plastic.
To sell back to Asian countries.
And I was the rake guy.
And this is all fact. Trust me, as a quarter decent writer, I couldn't even attempt to make this up.
It sounds like simple arithmetic, yet it is not. For between the science of it all, lies the art. I won't bore you with details of everyday warehouse norms and etiquette. I'm the last guy to go to with questions about industrial chemistry. Yet I became, slowly, good at all this.
I got nice with the fork lift. I knew exactly the weight of a large thick cardboard box filled with nothing but CD dust just by eyein' it up. I learned to not only accept that hookers would approach the driver's side of my car at the McDonald's on Route 13 but also how to talk to them without being standoffish.
I learned, I grew, from this stupid and mistaken experience.
Whatever you are, be a good one, said some old 1700s dude with a Whig.
I thank my father's cousin, Jimmy.