Friday, October 27, 2006

Goedi and the Chocolate Factory

Green Clementine’s comment about working for a chocolate manufacturer reminded me…
When I was fresh out of high school, I signed up for work at a temp agency in Berlin. Menial manual stuff.
My first job through them was in a chocolate factory. Yep, I was an Oompa-Loompa. My jump suit was blue, though.
The factory closed (and probably still closes if it’s still open) every summer for a cleaning. The bad jobs were the ones where you had to scrub out the tubs that swoosh the melted chocolate – this company did not have the chocolate waterfall. Apparently, the melted cocoa and emulsifier mess has an overpowering smell and is very sticky and hard to get off when you’re done.
I had an easy job.
I got to vacuum the cocoa bean roasters. It was a fetal (yes, with an “e” – I’m still around, aren’t I?) experience. The roasters were huge. Big enough for me to climb into, hunched over. The wet-dry vac was industrial and made a uterine white-noise humming sound.
(I tend to get goose bumps anyway when I hear a vacuum cleaner. And if I get to curl up under warm covers while it happens, I’m transported. I reminds me of when my Oma visited. And who knows, my mom may have had a vacuuming nesting experience while I was in utero. As a matter of fact, I’m getting those happy goose bumps right now, writing about it.)
Anyway, so it was a warm, hunched, white-noise experience. And, best of all, unsupervised. Oh, and I just remembered. That cocoa dust was everywhere. So I also got to climb on ladders to get at nooks and crannies in the ceiling and by the vents and at the windows. Really great stuff. Dickensian without the cruelty (and without the incredible coincidences and silly names).
And, yes, the cocoa powder went everywhere, too. So whenever I’d take a break, which, as you might guess, was rather frequently, I would dig in my nose and come up with truffles. Wiping my brow yielded the same result. If I sneezed, which also happened frequently because my nose-hairs were working overtime, my hanky looked as if someone had spilled Nestle Quik in it. The after-work shower drainage was slightly brown, too.
Good times.

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