I was bored at first but liked being there the last couple of weeks—probably because I knew I was leaving, but I also could do more stuff, knew how to keep busy. Could make boxes—I made of lot of boxes this summer. Brought boxes into existence. Or I could do handbinder, or punch press, or empty the trash into the Star Wars-like compactor, or sweep, or anything.
The job really did get more tolerable as it went on. I was interested first three weeks. I then had a week or two of boredom, not thinking I’d be able to make it through the night. Passed those weeks somehow, and last six weeks or so was the countdown ’til I left, and it wasn’t too bad. The nights themselves went quickly— I could keep busy ’til each break, which was only two hours from the last break. I would eat Nestle’s Crunch and Mountain Dew, a sandwich or water at first break, finish lunch at lunch and maybe read or write, then eat cookies third break. Bought a couple cases of Aldi’s soda the first couple weeks but got sick of that fast and drank water. I had many Nestle’s.
J__ was tough. Nice enough, but rough—all business, no compassion. Rough isn’t right word—crude language, “tough” maybe. She said that she’s hyper and likes to keep busy. Other people would say things about her, like it was her fault the machine broke down. “That damn J__”—and she would retort something but never something very good—a face-saving thing, though she hadn’t lost much—protection? Everybody knew they were kidding. J__ didn’t get mad. She said things like “there is the queen in question” about Y___ in relation to the M___ episode, that morning we worked over.
She called the other women “c__ts” all the time. Had a bumper sticker saying, “It takes a bitch like me to love a bastard like him.” Had me put cardboard boxes in her car once, and I saw a tampon box, though I wish I hadn’t. I was afraid that she thought me attractive for a while, but that fear didn’t last long. Never actually friends, we were probably the best acquaintances. We were both temps, so excluded from meetings. They tried to get her full-time but union procedures don’t allow her going straight to Forms [department].
She got three hours of sleep a day, slept all weekend. Small-volume hair pulled back, tail doubled back so as to make a stick tail. I never saw her eat anything, only drink bottled ice tea and smoke cigarettes. She said if she ate, she would fall asleep.
Though I smoked sometimes throughout the summer, I never smoked at work. Never sat at the tables outside under the roof where they all sat, chilled, and ashed into empty coffee cans. Smoke breaks—machine went down, D__ and N__ would take smoke breaks.
S__ thought my little black book was intriguing. She tried to pull it out with pliers once, but wasn’t really trying. She could’ve had it. It was all just a game. They weren’t worried nor did they really care but it was something to tease me about.
Twice, I think, I went 36 hours without sleep. Got up before work, work, went home back to work. Slept immediately that second morning. Didn’t get much sleep the whole summer, especially Fridays after work when I stayed up all day and simply collapsed about 10-11 at night, like the time we went to Great America with [my friends] Dave, Molly, and Mike (same night as O.J. televised suicide chase).
40 hours/week, two 48-hour weeks. I felt like I had no free time. Really missed being able to read. Summer went incredibly fast.
[From journal of 5 Sept. 1994, “Work at Avery” factory, Journal 6, page 151-4]