When it comes right down to it, apart from the whole gay-in-a-Christian-home thing, I have not led a particularly interesting life. There are few things about my past I could tell the people who know me now that would surprise them. But there is one thing about me that, when I tell anybody, they (almost without fail) laugh and say, "WHAAAAAT!?"
You probably don't give too much thought to where that plastic cup you drink out of comes from, how it's made, or who makes it. You might think plastic cups grow in cabbage patches, or maybe you think the stork brings them. Well, for four summers during college, I was one of the guys who helped make the plastic cups. I worked for one of the largest beverage container manufacturers in the country--I won't mention the name, but there aren't too many plastic cup companies in rural northwestern Pennsylvania, so I'm sure you could narrow it down pretty easily. I'm sure many of you reading this have the company's product in your cupboards. Take a look at the bottom, and if it came from Pennsylvania, who knows--maybe I helped make it.
I'm not sure why my old job fascinates people. Maybe it's because working at a plastic cup manufacturer seems so random. But where I come from, that was one of only a few options for college students during the summer. But really, there's nothing that fascinating about it. I worked the night shift in the assembly department. The cups (or, shells...they weren't cups yet) came over from the molding department, and we were responsible for a number of different tasks. We printed the designs on the shells, welded the handles on, put the linings in, stuffed them with straws, put the lids on, and packed them for shipping. If we were lucky, we got selected to run the label machine, which slapped labels on cups for amusement parks (ever used a cup at Six Flags, Schlitterbahn, Cedar Point, or any other major amusement park? You can thank me in the comments)...I had to wait three summers to get that job. If we were unlucky, we got stuck by ourselves making the unceasing supply of Disney cups, which I was convinced was a punishment, our factory's version of solitary confinement (we were Disney's exclusive provider of cups, so if you have one of those, you'd better thank me in the comments). The job could be very repetitive and monotonous. After four summers of doing the work, I still sometimes do it in my sleep. I could walk into that factory right now and pick right back up where I left off.
The work could be boring, but compared to other manufacturing jobs (which was about the only option for college students in my area, aside from working in a restaurant or a nursing home), we were lucky. We had a rather cushy existence, even compared with the unfortunate souls who worked in the molding department. And I can't complain, because the people I worked with--college student and full-time employee alike--were a blast. I still miss those people. And it was good experience, working in a factory setting. I think everybody should have the experience of working in a blue-collar job so they don't lose touch with the bullshit working-class people have to put up with on a daily basis.
I still have mementos from the job. Collecting cups that we liked was something of a hobby for several of us. And we did make some pretty cool cups. My personal obsession was collecting every soft drink cup I could get my hands on. The soft drink cups came mainly in the 64-ounce variety (yes, we made cups that big--we even made 100-ounce cups), and I managed to collect all of the different brand names over the years. I personally had a hand in making all of these cups.
I kept a few other cups that I helped put together. My personal favorite is my Ripley's Believe It or Not vampire cup. Yes, that's "blood" in there, between the shell and the lining.
And then there's this one. I'm not sure why I kept this. I think I took it home just to be stupid.
I didn't have a hand in making this one, but when I heard about its existence, I convinced the foreman to get me one from the warehouse. It's a pretty freakin' sweet cup.
And then I have my regular cups that I drink out of. I have Butterbeer cups (Harry Potter reference, if you don't know), some Hairspray cups because I wouldn't be gay if I didn't take those home, and an Addams Family musical cup.
A part of me misses making cups all night. It's the same part of me that, every time I go to the convenience store down the street that sells some of our 64-ounce cups, inspects the shrink wrap on each cup and gets irritated when I see holes in it.
So the next time you see a plastic cup in your gas station or at Disney World or at Six Flags, you'll be able to put a human face on it. And if your child puts their fingers through the shrink wrap, you'll be able to gently remind them that real, live people shrink-wrapped that cup several times until it was perfect, so PLEASE DON'T DO THAT. -eye twitch-
But enough about plastic cups and my pet peeves...fill your nearest plastic cup and kibitz below!
Kitchen Table Kibitzing is a community series for those who wish to share part of their evening around a virtual kitchen table with kossacks who are caring and supportive of one another. So bring your stories, jokes, photos, funny pics, music, interesting videos, and so forth. We would also appreciate links—including quotations—to diaries, news stories, and books that you think this community would appreciate.
Please note that pie fights will be unwelcome in this community, just as in most other series at DKos.
Finally, readers may notice that most who are posting diaries and comments in this series already know one another to some degree, but that definitely does not mean that newcomers will be excluded or unwelcome. We're happy to welcome guests to our kitchen table, and hope to make some new friends as well.
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