Bud Thinning – continued

I dodged the mass of side flowers heading in my direction. Or, at least, most of them. My right eye started throbbing in pain. Jaime had taken the shotgun approach to throwing the buds at me. One was bound to land. He had been collecting the side flowers for about fifteen minutes now without attacking. The game wasn’t fun after that.

There is an old thought experiment that asks how long a person would last transporting empty boxes from one side of a warehouse to the other. Back and forth, all day. The pay is great. Benefits, breaks, etc. The idea is that a job must have meaning, and eventually no amount of money can compensate for that fact. No coworkers, no music, no even ambient sounds apart from those made by you or the boxes.

Many people never face this experiment in the real world, so most can just dream how long they would last. For those in New Zealand during bud thinning season, however, you can get pretty close.

At the end of each day, I wonder if my time was well spent removing 2/3s of the buds on a kiwifruit plant. Day after day. So far I have made it a week.

I try to think back to our ancestors, how their life was likely similar to this. It helps a bit.

Without audiobooks or the company of my compatriots, three days is how long I would have lasted. Fortunately, we are allowed to listen to music, podcasts, or whatever. The bosses aren’t strict about talking, either.

The work isn’t the worst in the world, but I doubt a more unfulfilling job could be created.

What is worse, this has been a rainy week. Sometimes we stand around waiting for the rain to let up. Some days we go home. Some days the supervisor doesn’t show up and we start working randomly.

We have one supervisor who is intent on standing right behind me as we work. He knows my name, but not anyone else’s. Big mistake. He tells me to go faster, or I missed too much. I smile, nod my head, then go on doing exactly as I have been. Later he compliments me for my fast work.

His presence doesn’t make us go any faster, but it gives him something to do between his bouts of talking to his friends on the phone.

Posts will be sparse for the next week or two, but I will try to put out a few. I will post more when I start doing more interesting things again.

Working Man Blues

My training was six words long.

“Three buds, remove the outside ones.”

I waited patiently for further instructions, only to realize I was waiting in vain.

The work itself is easy enough. As easy a getting hired was. One short text message, and signing some paperwork the next day. $18NZ an hour to thin kiwifruit buds.

My compatriots in the field are an ecclectic mix. The stoners, who immedietly took me in upon hearing I’m from Colorado. The poor girl who has a nervous breakdown upon finding a spider. The German who had enough after three days that he left for good mid-shift. Two down to earth British lads. The migrant worker group from Thailand who comes during the season kitted out looking as though they are about to rob a bank in Chicago in February.

Together we stand in a field covered in kiwifruit buds and raise our arms for nine hours a day, becomimg sore in half the places Khia talks about in her one hit wonder from the early 2000s.

Center of the flower is the kiwifruit, and they will be ready to pick around March.

The workers and the managers don’t expect people to stay long. Someone who makes it a month is elevated to legend status.

Will I have a mental breakdown tomorrow?

Only time will tell.