: so this is gainful employment? :

All right, gainful may be overstating things a bit, but employment is pretty accurate. I got a job stocking shelves and, in exchange, I get a paycheck. Woohoo.

These aren’t just any shelves, mind you. No, no. These shelves are — get this — in freezers. Do you believe that? Freezers! The great big kind, the kind that are taller and wider and many degrees colder than I am. Or Alaska is. The kind you have to shove your arms into up to your shoulders. The kind you’d expect to find yourself in if you’re cryogenically frozen. Those freezers.

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended). My new career is also a seasonal, part-time gig where I work the graveyard shift from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the deadest of the dead of night.

You do not, and cannot possibly, know cold and bleak until you’re scraping a windshield with your library card at 3:30 in the morning. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is, it’s only November. Imagine January, when the snow’s flying and the wind’s blowing and I’m crying frozen tears. Well, you go on and imagine away; as for me, I’d rather be surprised.

Even now, my breath appears as frosty, diaphanous apparitions in the darkness and the world is so still, so silent, even the desolate night sounds have quieted. There’s no mournful train whistle, no distant dog barking, just a silence so deep and so profound I hear my own furtive footsteps.

My commute takes me past house after sleeping house, windows dark, and I think of the warm souls safe inside, so snug in their beds. How dare they, I mutter. Just who do they think they are with their sweet dreams? Why should they get to sleep? The short answer is, they shouldn’t, so I blow my horn as I speed past. Ha, take that, you snooze hounds.

Wish me luck.

Copyright © publikworks 2012


22 thoughts on “: so this is gainful employment? :

  1. Ironic, Lisa. You and I have a love/hate relationship with the cold – wait, is there love? In any case, as I snuggle in my electric blanket I let myself imagine working in a freezer. I freeze – literally and figuratively. Brrrrr….

    That said, congrats on employment! Paychecks are a good thing. Sure beats no paycheck. I have worked a graveyard shift for more than one job. There is a sadness in driving to work in the dark of night, when you know folks are snuggled tightly in bed. Tell you what – I’ll keep a light on for you at night. A reminder there are folks out there working the night shift to help those that live during normal sunlit hours.


    1. Speaking for myself, I have a hate/ hate it more relationship with stoopid, miserable winter. And now I have freezer burns on my hands, so I’ve started to glare at my refrigerator whenever I pass it — gah!

      Thanks for keeping a light on, that’s sweet. Unfortunately, the paycheck is only temporary. I’m still on the lookout for a permanent position.


  2. Oh, sweetie, I’m not sure whether to laugh or send you some hand knits. Or both.

    Take good notes (or dictate them) for the novel or exposé of the industry that you must be writing. Either one would be a bestseller.


    1. Oh, do both, please. The laughing will warm my heart and the hand knits will warm everything else.

      About that novel, though. My fingers may never work properly again after being subjected to such extreme temperatures. They’re locked into fists and I’ve resorted to typing with my elbows.


  3. Your blog name and byline drew me here and, while I chuckled at your work woes, I had to stop and commend you for going full swing ahead to accept any job and a paycheck. If I had your job, I’d probably have nightmares of being locked in by accident (or intentionally by a disgruntled former freezer worker, God forbid) . But you know what? There is a novel there and lots of late night crackpot tales to share.


    1. The locked-in-the-freezer scenario is just a matter of time, Eliz. I’m not really at my sharpest at 4 in the morning, so locking myself in a freezer will be a routine event. I’m sure of it. Stay tuned. And thanks, I hope you’ll stop by again.


  4. Oh what bitter cold irony that you, the one who hates frigid temps, must venture out into the snow to go to work in freezers. Those durn paychecks. Can’t live without them; can’t live without them. Cecilia has a marvelous point, though — when others are just barely into their workaday schedule and are counting down the minutes til 5 p.m., you’re going home to warm socks and hot coffee. Keep a stiff (yet not frozen) upper lip, Lisa.

    Beautifully written post, by the way.


    1. Thanks, Jo. I tried getting by on my good looks and charm, which carried me through one entire afternoon. Of course, I had to skip lunch and borrow bus fare to get home, but it taught me something. It taught me that I might as well look for a job as a surfer in Illinois as a writer.

      Even so, I refuse to believe my best days are behind me. Close, maybe, but not for sure. Thanks for stopping in, it’s always good to hear from you.


  5. This is the stuff of literary genius. In this job, there is a novel. An essay. A great blog, check.

    As someone who has worked in ice rinks for over 20 years, my advice: hot showers, hot cocoa, long johns and soup.


    1. And Kleenex. Don’t forget the Kleenex. I’m telling you, my nose runs like Usain Bolt. But who can blame it, I’d run, too, if I could.

      It’s good to hear from you home tome. Did Sandy spare you?


    1. Thanks, nc. I’m hoping I’ll get used to it, but seriously doubt if that’s a realistic possibility. I figure I can endure anything for six hours — even frigid, knuckle-numbing, nose hair freezing cold. Then I’ll move to Florida and lie in the sun until I get warm again (which should be around 2021).


  6. You are fantastic.. you always make me laugh and was that you speeding past honking!! I sleep in til 4.30.. horrors.. honk louder and I will get an extra hour in my day! Man, I have stacked shelves, cleaned motels, waitressed (my favourite) taught drama to delinquents (my other favourite), done all kinds to make a few bucks..modeled for life drawing classes! it is all part of it.. actually being finished by 10 is a bit of a bonus really! You get to drink coffee on the way HOME from work! c


    1. And you always make me dream, so we’re even. Except I think I got the better end of the deal : )

      Having the work day behind me by 10 in the morning has its advantages, celi. Especially in the winter — I actually get to enjoy the daylight hours. So, see — I can be an optimist when I absolutely have to be. And yes, that’s me honking as I speed past. I don’t want you to oversleep, you know.


  7. That’s a tough one. I hope this will lead to something different for you soon. Seems everyone though will be going part-time soon? I won’t go political here. Stay warm.


    1. It could be worse, John. It could be a job in a mortuary or a toll booth or as a restroom attendant, right? Still and all, I too am hoping this will lead to something different. In the meantime, I’ll be up to my little pink ears in long johns and Polartec and my hat with the earflaps : )


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