|Weird Jobs Part 2|
The grease and the sleep deprivation of the Twinkie factory finally got to me and I quit and took a job at Fairview Hospital. Fairview is just across Riverside Avenue from Augsburg so the commute was a walk.
Hospital workers have a pecking order. As you might expect, doctors are at the pinnacle. They bark orders and expect the rest of the world to scurry. Nurses actually run the place so they are next. Orderlies are down the hierarchy and then come janitorial, but at the very bottom are the laundry workers. My new job. I worked a couple afternoons and on weekends. (Of course, well below laundry workers are medical students.)
The Fairview laundry room is in the bowels of the hospital and the soiled linen, scrubs, surgery drapes and anything washable reached the "receiving room" by laundry chutes, similar to what we had on the 2nd floor of our 2-story house in Lowry - a chute that gravity fed laundry straight to the basement.
The laundry room was a large space, about 40' x 20' and 20 feet or so high. Arriving for work on a Saturday at 6:00 AM, this room was filled to the ceiling with bags of laundry, the bags the size of a duffel. 15,000 cubic feet of dirty laundry.
There were 2 of us to deal with this mountain, Ricky & I. Ricky had seniority so to my dismay, he controlled the radio. But he was cheerful and talkative so that made the day more tolerable. The job was analogous to a coal-miner's. We mined the bags and loaded the dirty laundry into carts which sat on a floor scale. "Normal" laundry loads were 40 lbs. Blue-toned surgery linen were 35 lb loads. There were no surgical masks or rubber gloves on this job. Lots of the linen was soiled with what you might imagine coming from hospital rooms & surgery theaters - and some things you might not. Surgery linen tended to be a bit "skanky". It now seems to me a miracle I survived without succumbing to some pernicious disease.
We then retreated to the "receiving" room to fill 2 more carts. The second trip across the hall and each subsequent required pulling the washed linen - hot-hot-hot - from the washer and loading it into dryers. Then pulling the dried linen into carts and handing the cart off to women operating manglers to finish the process. Repeat, repeat, repeat ... (For Fortran programmers , Do until ..)
By 10 AM, we could just about see the floor. That's when the trucks from Fairview Southdale showed up and refilled the room. Fairview deemed it more economical to operate one laundry for both hospitals so they ferried Southdale dirty laundry to the Minneapolis hospital and returned with clean laundry. The arrival of these trucks sent me into despondency. I was living the Greek Myth of Sisyphus, rolled back to 6 AM. By 2:30 the room was empty except for the scattering of drops from above that was pretty much constant and I got to go home to a hot shower.
This job, more so than the Twinkie factory, convinced me I had to finish my college degree. At least Hostess let you eat free pies. I could never have survived an assembly line job.
Copyright © 2018 Dave Hoplin