Sunday, July 1, 2012

Conveyor Belts and Hangers

          There are several opportunities that each of us has to volunteer – whether through the community or the Church we attend – often both.

          The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints distributes food items to so many in need all throughout the world.  And the demands are always increasing.  Assignments must be fulfilled in order to meet the requirements and demands.
  I have personally assisted at the pasta plant, the cannery, the dairy (well – not the actual dairy where the cows are milked – but the plant where the milk and cheese are made) the bishops’ storehouse and Deseret Industries (a store which sells a large variety of second hand goods) For each I have positive experiences for the most part.  With some come memorable stories. 

          Once when I was pregnant with Jenna, Roland and I had gone to DI to offer our assistance.  I don’t recall what location – but we were given chairs and price guns to put on books that had been put on carts but were still outside.  Roland and I started setting aside books that we thought we would like to have for our unborn child. Some were really in great condition.  Some appeared as though they had never been used.

The first time I’m aware that I assisted at DI, our son Ooki  (mentioned here) was living with us at the time.  As it was also his first time assisting at the store he wore his flip flops – his everyday footwear – and so for safety reasons he wasn’t allowed to be on the floor lifting heavy objects as Roland and Biff had been assigned. 

Ooki and I were assigned to the warehouse.  Our job was to sort through clothes.  There were three lines overhead. We were told to sort the clothes into men, women and children.  It was so awesome having him back there with me as he was a natural hard worker – and he could reach above me and could more easily pull down more hangers when we ran out. 

There was one thing that amused me about his performance however. Every time he came across something red, it automatically went onto the women’s hanging.  If it was small enough, I suppose he would have placed it to the children’s side.  But I did notice when he placed a man’s shirt on the women’s line.

          “Isn’t that a man’s shirt?”  I asked after he had placed it on the line with the other clothing.
          “NO!” he wondered what would possess me to ask such a question.  “Would you wear that if you were a man?”

          “I don’t know.  But look.  It is a man’s shirt.  The buttons are on the opposite side.”
          People have asked, “Why do men and women have buttons on the opposite side of their shirts?” 

          I wasn’t paying close enough attention to ever consider it.  But Roland explained to me that so that when you are dressing a person of a different sex than your own (an invalid spouse, parent, child, whatever) the buttons are on the same side as your used to.  Oh.

          “Besides just because you wouldn’t wear it doesn’t mean another man wouldn’t.  Don’t you think it looks like something that Tony might wear?”

          “Oh, alright!” Ooki removed the garment and placed it on the men’s line.  It did make me smile that he had reacted as he had.

          I don’t recall having done volunteer work at the pasta plant until after I was married.  Volunteers have to be at least sixteen and so we didn’t have any of the boys the first couple of times.

          Roland and I were assigned to remove the spaghetti noodles from the chute and stack them neatly in grey tubs.  I have small hands and was not able to keep up with Roland who was filling 3 ½ tubs to my every one.  When my side got too full, Roland and I would trade places and he’d empty my side until I could no longer keep up with his side. And then we’d trade back.  It was fun. 

          When I’m at the dairy, I am usually on the assembly line with the cheese – though I don’t recall now what my exact job was.  My favorite part about working there is going on break and having access to chocolate milk and cheese.  And often we get a brick of cheese before we leave.  And church cheese is very wonderful to the pallet.

          This last Thursday I did some work at the cannery.  It wasn’t near as hot as the pasta plant – especially where I was positioned.  I enjoyed watching the long line of conveyor belts take each of the bottles to their destination.
          Someone would load empty bottles onto the conveyor belt.  The bottles would line up and go through a machine that would squirt salsa into each bottle.  Then the loaded jars would be removed long enough for one of three workers to put on the lid.  And then it would go to the “steam room for bottles”
          The temperature of the water – from what I understand – was 180 – and that would seal the lids onto the jars.  My job was checking the lids to make certain that all were vacuum-packed – and to remove the few that still had air beneath the lids. 

          The water had cooled down quite a bit – though the salsa was still warm.  I loved having the opportunity to shake some excess water onto myself to help myself cool down.

          The final destination for the bottles was inside of a premade box.  And that was it.  I worked hard and once my shift ended, I drove to my sister’s house to pick up Jenna (who had spent the night) I didn’t realize how sore I was until I sat down on Kayla’s couch.  I must do some volunteer work more often.  I may start going 3 of 4 times a month after school starts again.
          I mentioned the Bishops’ Storehouse in this post.  We have also fulfilled various tasks at the food bank – from sorting food products to sending out letters.  I’m grateful for the opportunities that I have to serve.


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