No Lipstick on the Factory Floor!

“No lipstick on the factory floor!”

Oh, you mean me?  I have to wear something, my skin is cracking.  Besides, we’re not kissing anyone.

The surprised workers broke out laughing and others chimed in, “They think we’re kissing in the factory!”

This was my first time working on a factory floor.  It was in food production so there were additional rules.

It’s money before Christmas!

I’d been hired over the phone.  Steve introduced himself and said, “I see that you’re educated so you may not want to do this job.  It’s in a factory so it’s boring work, but it’s money before Christmas.”

Money before Christmas was music to my ears.  It was still dark when I presented myself the next morning.  The supervisor looked me up and down and said, “You’ve never worked in a factory before.”  She was unimpressed and I could almost hear her thinking that Steve should do a better job screening new hires.

Standing still on the factory floor.

I jumped into the work.  It seemed simple enough.  After four hours I began to understand how physically demanding factory work is, even if it looks like you’re pretty much standing still.  This was labor.

The work was repetitive, Steve was right.  But, it required attention and care.  A lot of the process had to be done by hand and the items were easily damaged.  To do this work in such high volume also required a surprising amount of physical strength and stamina.  I wouldn’t have guessed this to be true if I hadn’t done the job myself.

Built Ford tough!

I went home tired.  The smell of pickle clung to me so I wanted to clean up before going grocery shopping.  Another few shifts and I no longer cared that I smelled of pickle.  Or that my hair was a disaster from the mandatory hair net.  I pulled on a baseball cap, turned up my collar and quickly went about my errands, falling into bed exhausted every night.  I thought of John Fogerty’s and Bruce Springsteen’s music and identified with the working man.  I had a whole new level of understanding of the appeal of “built Ford tough!”

A value greater than gold.

When that job was over, I noticed the food products in stores.  The prices astonished me.  Before working at the factory, I would have considered the prices a little bit high; in line with luxury prepared food items.  Now, I couldn’t believe what amazing deals they were!  The amount of time, care and labor that was required to fill each prepared package:  the prices should be on par with gold, I thought.

Words of wisdom from previouslytexan

I came across the post Tomatoes by previouslytexan and I agree:  everyone should do this type of work at least once.  It teaches us the real value of the food we enjoy as well as the people along the paths from the fields to our tables.

The greater our understanding, the more deeply we can enjoy wonderful foods.

Enjoy the ride!

Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park.  Enjoy the ride.  -Anthony Bourdain


[Note:  Names have been changed to protect the privacy of others.]



16 thoughts on “No Lipstick on the Factory Floor!

    1. Hi Joey and thanks! You taught me something new today. I looked up de-tassling corn and learned that the process causes cross-pollination, which produces seeds that grow a lot more corn. That must have been hard work! Apparently, there are contracting companies available to do that work now. I wonder whether it falls under migrant labor type jobs today?


  1. ianbalentine

    I worked on a farm for years growing up: picking zucchini and strawberries, bailing hay, shoveling you-know-what…hard, hard work, but I’ve yet to find a job more satisfying for the soul.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ian, That must have been demanding and tiring! Farm work is so intensive. Long days and no days off either. I understand what you mean about it being so good for the soul. When I worked at the factory, I noticed that my mind was quiet (very unusual for me!) and I felt a sense of satisfaction which must be where the expression, “An honest day’s work for an honest dollar” comes from.


              1. ianbalentine

                I’ll agree with the great music collection, but I was too young to drive back (ages 12-15), and my first car was a very boxy and very un-cool grey Chevy Bel Aire. *sigh*

                Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Rob! That’s pretty young to start working! Being a paper boy is hard work too, especially in the cold, rain and snow. Not to mention starting before sunrise. Those comic books must have been all the more valuable for your efforts :).

      Liked by 1 person

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