Thursday, 21 August 2008

Whack job attack - part 2

This was my worst job in the UK, in fact ever:

Apple sorting.

Picture if you will, a cold, grey land. Temperatures are Siberian. You are living in a mobile home/caravan/trailer/whatever the hell it is called. All around you the only language being spoken is Russian. No you are not in the former Eastern bloc. You are in the South of England, and you are miserable. 

I sorted apples at this place for exactly 3 weeks, and it was the longest 3 weeks of my life. We worked 14 hours a day. Of course, because we were working with apples, it was again necessary to be working in a North pole simulator. Everyone working there was very very unhappy. There were many reasons for this.

At the time, many of the Eastern Europeans who can work legally in the UK now, could not. And so the ingenious UK government created this special visa so that they could exploit cheap, eager labour. It is some kind of student visa, supposedly for students of agriculture from Eastern Europe to come over and gain working experience. Whatever. It is a way for farmers to legally pay people less than minimum wage. Bastards. Of course, in those days, the puny wage they were paid was worth loads in their countries. 

Anyway, the staff of this packhouse were all from Eastern Europe, had all been there far far too long, and all had one thing on their minds: money. They all spoke to eachother in Russian, no matter where they were from. We called them "the Russians", although not one of them was actually Russian. They all hated G, me, and any other "foreigner" with a fiery passion and went out of their way to make our lives difficult. 

We, being legal, got paid more than them. We were new and slow. They didn't want to talk to us and explain stuff to us. They were tired. Working with us was like being sent to purgatory for them, and I can safely say the reverse applied too. 

I have nothing against anyone from Eastern Europe, because after this awful experience, I had the opportunity to work with many lovely people from this region. It was the working conditions that did it. But still. These people were quite mean. Two of them threw my stuff at me while I was showering in freezing cold water. 

If my colleagues were miserable, the superiors were worse off. They were terrified of the big bosses and screamed at us all day long. We spent the day staring at apples to check for bruises, and discarding bad ones. Man that shit makes your eyes ache. 

A usual day would proceed something like this:

Line manager: Why did you let this apple through? Don't you see this mark? (Points to black dot size of amoeba).
5 minutes later, bosses wife comes in:

Bosses wife: why did you reject this apple (with amoeba dot)? You are wasting our money.


Good grief. My life was sleeping, eating pot noodle, and spinning, examining, and carrying apples. One day when the line manager was telling me constantly how uselessly I was spinning my apples (to check for bruises) when I was doing it the same way I did it every day, I just cracked. The woman was clearly terrified of getting in trouble and so had to be seen to be a disciplinarian, but why take it out on me? Cos I was the only one who spoke English and wouldn't sic the Russian mafia on her?

At tea break, I left and never went back. G and I took the next train outta there. Like, I am not normally a quitter, but there are times where you have to ask yourself if there is a valid reason for living in hell, and we most certainly could find jobs better than that.

The worst part of all this is that I don't even eat bloody apples. Considering my measly pay I could have at least scored a free meal, nyet? 

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