After moving to Northern California and relocating to Dixon, there was a time during my first marriage that I actually stayed home and was wife and mother. A couple of friends and I became bored and decided that a "seasonal" job that led to unemployment befits the remainder of the year wouldn't be such a bad gig. So...we trouped down to the tomato processing plant and applied. Surprise, we all got hired.
The first thing employees did when they entered, which should have been a negative sign, was don a yellow plastic outfit, a hairnet, rubber boots and headphones. If you're into beauty...this isn't the look you'd want.
I was assigned to the highest rung of the 'catwalk', the unloading table. This was the first stop for the tomatoes coming directly from the field by truck. My mission, should I choose to accept it, was stripping the tomatoes from any vines still attached, weeding out any rubble...which I soon found included snakes, dead rabbits, and other assorted pests. I didn't last long at the task because my screams kept interrupting the flow and I couldn't master the wrist fling that freed the fruit. Instead, I continually pelted those around me with maters. I got moved when, suffering from human contact and humor, I started displaying obscene tomatoes to my neighboring workers.
From there I went to the sorting table, two rungs down. This table held only the roundest, plumpest tomatoes, headed for the steamer. My job was to make sure there were no rotten spots, stems, or other problems. I would have probably been awesome at the task had I not immediately been hit with motion sickness. I felt as though I was moving and the table stood still. My pasty pallor and drunken swagger attested to my nausea and I was relegated to the steam table at the bottom. I'm sure you can see where my career is headed.
You might have heard that steam is good for the complexion. Wrong...especially when it opens your pores to tomato juice splashing from the table onto your skin. I thought I'd finally found my niche, but soon looked forward to a break in the monotony and heat.
Some ten minutes that was. From the top, it took eight and a half to climb down the metal scaffolding, wash off, and find a place to sit. By the time I did that, it was time to get back to work. This is definitely not a career for someone who needs a break from standing.
I finished off the day there, but went home with the worst case of hives ever. I woke up the next morning with a severe head cold, called in sick, and got fired for poor attendance.
As if that wasn't enough...I lost my gold nugget necklace somewhere in the fray. Somebody, some place found a nice reward in their ketchup, soup, or sauce. Believe me, that piece of jewelry was a real prize compared to the other strange things that end up in those products. I couldn't eat anything made from a tomato for over a year. There is no way you can get ever 'dead' thing off that conveyer belt...trust me. So...that was my worst, and shortest job ever. There are just some things I'm not cut out for and that was one of them. :) Any wonder I became an author?
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