Working in the Warehouse
The shipment is expected the first week of January. Two pallets, one thousand pounds. It is a small shipment by our usual standards, but the warehouse space wasn’t organized to receive it. I still had four pallets of Force Multiplication sitting in the middle of the floor. They needed to be combined into two pallets against a wall. Then there were the slipcases, four pallets across, three pallets high. All of those slipcases needed to be relocated into the upstairs section of the warehouse. They’re the only thing we have which is light enough to go up there. Even with light boxes, the work piles up when there are 400 boxes and a set of stairs involved.
I drafted my children. These days they are all adult sized. I’ve arrived at a point where I house my own work crew. I could have just said “this business pays our bills, you will help.” But I sweetened the deal by offering to pay them all by the hour. Saturday around noon, we piled into the car and set to work.
The first twenty minutes are always full of squabbling. They don’t squabble with quite the vigor that they used to, but in the opening minutes of a job like this, no one quite knows their job. People get into each others way and they grouch a bit. During those twenty minutes, I sometimes wonder if I would have been better to get outside help. Then they found their rhythm. They began to daisy chain boxes to the bottom of the stairs. Then daisy chain again to get them up and stashed. They learned how to toss boxes and catch them. They challenged each other, trying to work faster than a sibling could keep up. They laughed. When physical limitations made the work end before all the boxes were moved, all the kids said they wanted to come back and finish the job.
We went again today. Again it took twenty minutes to find our rhythm. And for the warehouse to warm up enough that they stopped complaining about the cold. Kiki had showered right before, so we had to take an old Schlock shirt and tie it onto her head as a makeshift hat to keep her head from freezing. Gleek decided that merely stacking boxes wasn’t quite good enough. So I now have a lovely box fort upstairs. Patch even made a cannon from an old piece of metal duct that was laying around.
At the end of the work, we could all see how much space we’d made. I’ll have plenty of room to receive my pallets of books, and the second (much larger) shipment that is due in February. The next big task is to get rid of thirty wooden pallets that we have stacked on the floor. That’s a job for a truck or a trailer.
Moving all the boxes inspired the kids. All four of them jumped on their computers to play a shared game of Minecraft. They’ve been at it for four hours now. I can hear them calling out to each other and laughing. Playing together comes easily and naturally for people who have worked together. I keep forgetting that. My kids are likely to be conscripted as work crew more often. I think they’ll be good with that.
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