Last Updated on February 18, 2023
Many years ago I used to work in the grain lab at a large company who shall remain nameless (they’re near Woodbridge). I was a temporary worker each summer, for about four months during the harvest. It was my job to climb onto the trucks and take samples and whatnot. That bit was okay.
When there were no trucks coming in it was my job to ‘level’ the grain mountains in the stores. These were hanger size buildings and the grain mountains were around 80,000 tons. It was our job to convert the mountain into a sort of plateau. If the grain was stored in a mountain rather than a plateau it would overheat and rot.
Moving around 40,000 tons of barley or wheat was not nice. Especially in warm weather. For safety we had to wear wearing rubber waders (giant gum boots) and a face mask. We used shovels to sort of shove the grain around. You started the job crouched in the narrow gap between the top of the grain mountain and the roof of the warehouse / hanger. At this height, this close to the roof the heat was unbearable. Not in a ‘ooh that’s a bit hot’ kinda way, but in a ‘I’ve opened an oven door but can’t close it again’ kind of way. The considerable heat rising from the grain wasn’t much fun either.
We took a thermometer into a store with us once and it maxed out in seconds. Levelling grain was the nearest to actual hell I think I’ve ever experienced, and I once fell of a fast moving car and gouged the skin my face and back.
The heat mixed with the dust in the stores turned our skin red raw. No amount of anti-histamines would offer any relief from the horrific itching.
After two summers I learned that the fella who operated the conveyor belt that unloaded the trucks had the ability to use the hydraulics on the conveyor to ensure the gain was distributed evenly. He just choose not to.
I asked the conveyor operator why he didn’t use the little lever that existed expressly to move the end of the conveyor in a sweeping motion, so the grain didn’t end up as a mountain. He just sort of shrugged and wandered off. This one person and his apparent laziness caused hundreds of man hours of pointless, hellish labour. Backbreaking, hot, itchy, unbearable work that was so bad I dare say it convinced me that not only was manual labour ‘not for me’, but it also made me realise that I never wanted to have a job that was futile ever again.
Hard work doesn’t phase me. Pointless hard work that is very easily avoidable phases me considerably. I did that job two summers in a row.
For eight months over two years I wore that mask, schlepped around in waders and suffered needlessly. So if you are going to tell me wearing a mask when you go shopping is a hardship, you will not get any agreement from me.