The year I graduated from college, I took a job in a paper mill for the summer. I was planning to be married at the end of the summer, so I wanted to earn as much money as I could before the wedding. The mill paid it's laborers in excess of $6.00 per hour, when most other jobs paid $2.00 to $3.00 per hour, so it was sheer greed that steered me on that course. I was 22, 5' 1", probably weighed 115 pounds, and had no clue what life in a paper mill was like.
My first night on the job--yeah, night, the midnight to 6:00 am shift, to be exact--I was introduced to my first paper machine. This particular gadget spit out one size of meat trays: the kind hamburger, chicken, pork chops, etc., are packaged in when you buy them at the supermarket. The trays were coming out of the machine on a track on each side, and the machine automatically inserted a little strip of blue paper after each 25 trays. My job was to take 100 trays at a time, put them in a bag, put the bag in a box, and put the box on a conveyor belt, and send it on it's way. I was instructed that occasionally, the machine would tear a chunk out of a tray or two, and if that happened, I was to remove the damaged trays, drop them down a hole in the floor to be reformed, adjust the blue paper back to 25, and continue with putting them in a bag, in a box and on the conveyor. Easy enough, right? NOT!
The first 10 minutes went smoothly; I would take the trays out of the dispenser, 50 at a time, put them in the bag, put another 50 in, then put them in the box, and put the box on the conveyor belt. (Did I mention the boxes were flat, and I had to shape and form them first?)
After that first smooth 10 minutes, when I was pretty proud of myself--I could do this!--Satan took control of my machine. Damaged trays started appearing; that meant pulling out the damaged trays, moving the blue paper back in the row the number of trays I had removed, (the trays were being added at the far end of each row, and the trays were advancing toward me), damaged trays dumped in the "recycle" hole, the adjusted count put in the bag, the bag in the box, and the box on the conveyor belt. Of course, once I had moved the blue paper, I had to keep moving each new strip, to keep the 25 count standard.
That demon machine kept spitting out trays, with damaged ones appearing with greater and greater frequency. I was frantically trying to keep the count straight, and keep up with the machine. The stress started to get to me! My bowels started to churn--OH NO! I had to leave my machine and run to find the restroom. In my haste and desperation, I had run into the men's room by mistake--no doors on the stalls. I had absolutely no hope of turning back to find the ladies room without disaster! I used the men's john, and prayed that no man would come in and catch me in an embarrassing situation. If Satan had taken over my machine, the good Lord was in charge of the bathroom, because no males walked in while I was there! (Thank you, God!)
This crisis dealt with, I ran back to my machine, where trays were falling on the floor because no one was there to remove them. I hurriedly picked up the trays that had fallen off the machine and dumped them into the recycle hole, and rushed to catch up with the endless line of trays. All of the above were repeated, over and over (including the mad runs to the restroom--at least I finally found the ladies room!) , over and over for six hours! Don't ask how many perfectly good trays got desperately dropped into the recycle opening! I began to think if there was a hell, this must be it! I somehow survived, exhausted and drained--both literally and figuratively--my first night in the paper mill.