Thursday, April 21, 2022

Microstory 1869: Warehome is Where The Hotplate Is

The first thing I did when I got out of college was to apply for a bunch of jobs at warehouses. I didn’t even bother trying to leverage my degree into something “better” because if there’s one thing my entire education career taught me, it’s that even when I work hard at something, I only ever barely make it. So I really needed something entry level, and there were a few other jobs that were off the table. I don’t do cleaning, and I don’t do food services. Cleaning—ironically, but not surprisingly—makes you dirty. And I don’t want to see how the sausage is made. Warehouse work seemed like the ideal environment. If I could just find something lowkey and small, I wouldn’t have to deal with all the stresses of other jobs, or bring my work home with me. I could just sit around and wait for item requests, and then fulfill them. Well, I severely overestimated the number of opportunities like that. They were all busy, busy, busy. We weren’t running, or anything, because that was dangerous, but I wasn’t ever not filling an order. But I didn’t bother looking for anything better, because that sounded like a lot of work. As always, I was an average worker. I was at no risk of getting fired, and at no risk of being promoted. Those guys got paid more, but they also had much more of that stress I was telling you about, because they were responsible for other guys. I just wanted to stay in my lane, and make enough money to afford my not quite rent-controlled apartment. That’s what did me in decades later. I never earned enough to do any significant saving, and when my rent went up, I got out. I realized, though, that I had a backup place to live. There was a nearly secret room in the warehouse on the upper level, which they didn’t use for anything anymore. Always at a comfortable temperature, and big enough to fit a mattress, a hotplate, and some safe space between the mattress and the hotplate. You know where I’m going with this, don’t you? No. You don’t.

I spent about a week looking for a new place, all the while trying to make my living space as nice as possible. I put up some decorations; I like lemurs, so I had a lot of pictures of lemurs. I learned some clever recipes. I even bought a few new things to be more efficient with what little space I had available. Mostly what it did was get me to reassess my needs. I hadn’t watched TV that whole time, and I didn’t miss it. I spent a lot of time reading, which was not a hobby I enjoyed before. See my earlier statements about school. I decided to stop looking for a new apartment, because this was doing me just fine. I had a nice routine, which allowed me to sneak up there without anyone noticing. The perfect thing is that it wasn’t just any room. It was, like, an industrial shower, or something. I don’t know what they designed it to clean, but I don’t think it was people, yet the plumbing was still on, and I found it worked just fine. There was a less secret toilet down the hall that I just couldn’t use until I was sure the place was completely empty. With all that nearby, it was months before I felt bold enough to loosen up a bit. I stopped tiptoeing around, and being careful with the sounds I made. I even ended up venturing downstairs once, curious what the warehouse looked like without lights. I found a bunch of my coworkers down there, playing cards in their pajamas. They greeted me warmly, like they knew I was there the entire time. They said they did know, and then they took me down to a secret section of the basement that was totally finished, where they all lived in more luxury then I ever had in my apartment. So I moved again.

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