(Then I got up and gave the worst presentation I’ve ever given, but that’s another story…).
(And of course bad life decisions make for good literature, maybe).
So, anyway—this is one of those bad life decisions. Wolfe Nursery. I worked at the south location for about four months in 1982. I sold shade trees, unloaded trucks, did whatever the stupid bosses told me to do—I even mopped the floor once (a fiasco).
I sold a magnolia tree once—got a $30 commission. Yay! Real money for broke-ass me.
Much of my time was wasted unloading trucks of fertilizer and peat moss. There was a competing nursery just on the other side of Ben White and we used to denigrate their manhood because they used forklifts to unload their trucks. We used our backs! We used brute strength!
A semi would back into the soil additive section, and three guys would get to work—one up on the flat bed of the truck, one in the middle, and a stacker on the end. The truck guy would peel the 40-pound bags of sheep or cow shit off the pallet (peel because the plastic bags would stick together) and toss the bag to the guy in the middle, who would spin and toss it to the stacker, who would arrange the bags into an orderly, stable stack. The middle job was the best, I thought—you could sort of catch the bag in mid-air and flip it to the stacker without too much effort. The truck position was the worst—you had to pull those bag up and throw them.
Three of us on a job like that on a fully-loaded semi? Five or six hours.
And at the end of a shift—yeah, you smelled like you’d been working in the soil additive section.
Selling shade trees was better. Or selling roses! Or just about anything else.
I see in this ad the little box for “spring bulbs.” Yeah, I remember those fucking things. There were crates and crates of bulbs, and each bulb was in a little cellophane packet closed off with a tiny tight rubber band. It was my task, one rainy afternoon, to remove those rubber bands. Hundreds of them. For four hours or so. I was cross-eyed by the time I finished.
After work I stopped by the Deep Eddy for a beer or ten, and I was complaining about my day. Peter Nye said, “You realize that on the other end there was some guy putting those rubber bands on, right?”
And I did realize that! I had actually spent the cross-eyed afternoon thinking that we were all victims of the vast capitalist conspiracy! That this work was meaningless, that my labor would never be adequately compensated….
I was happy when they laid me off in May.