I had my first job when I was 5 years old. Our neighbor, my best friend at the time, was a boy of the same age as me whose father worked for an egg processing company. He, the father, asked me if I wanted to work a few hours with his son at the plant. It was a Saturday and they had to do some rush job on eggs for the army.

It sounded fun so I agreed. We arrived at the plant at around 10 a.m. I had no idea what to expect or what I was going to do. I was placed next to Paul, my friend, in a U-shaped area with a huge stack of “filler flats”—the flats you see eggs sold from at bulk places. In front of me was a narrow conveyor belt with a slot opening to me. On my right was an empty shelf. Flats on the left, conveyor belt in front, empty shelf on the right. Paul was in the next U. We were, except for Paul’s father, the only ones working.

Paul’s dad put a fifty-cent piece under my stack of flats. “You get it when you get there.” Okay. “The eggs will come down the belt, go through a washer, then they will either come through your shoot or go past you to Paul’s.” “When the eggs come down your slot you have to catch them quickly or they’ll break. Put them in the flats. Stack the filled flats on the right side. I’ll come by once in a while and box them. Just stack them up. We have about 300 cases to process. Got it?” I got it. It seemed easy enough.

The belt was a grader. It separated the eggs by size. I was on Large. Paul was doing Medium–there are more mediums but he had experience. Note: within about 5 visits we could both handle 2 shoots at once—processing 2 sizes each. We were good.

So the belt starts. I was not ready for this. It moved a bit forward, then a jerk back, then forward again. This caused the eggs to stand up and walk down the belt. This was necessary to make the size separator work. Here come this army of marching eggs! It was the funniest thing I had ever seen. Thousands of dancing eggs. I never laughed so hard. Then they started coming down through my slot and they were coming FAST. I was catching eggs and getting them to the flats like a maniac. Paul told me that trouble started when your flats filled up and you had move full ones to the other side without missing any eggs. If you miss one, it breaks and lands in your lap.

I was laughing so hard but working so hard too! Paul missed one and took it in the lap. What a mess. Then I had one break when I picked it up. I was going so fast I probably crushed it. I went through that stack of flats in about 10 seconds. Note: It really took about 1/2 hour but it seemed like nothing. Paul’s dad put another 1/2 dollar and another stack of flats and fired up the belt.

After 2 hours were both a sticky mess. “Break time.” We each got 20 cents. The old fashioned “Coke” machine—the kind that opened like a chest and you snaked your selection out by following a guide—took only dimes. We got 2 drinks each! Cool. We only worked 2 hours!!! I thought this was paradise. Paul said we got 2 drinks because one was for a soda fight and the other was for drinking. I noticed he bought a 7-up. Kids don’t drink 7-up. 7-up has a LOT of fizz. He shook it and I got a shower. My orange soda was weak but my root beer scored. Back to work.

We packed more eggs. Went to lunch where I was introduced to chili dogs and then we worked some more. We had an afternoon break and I bought a 7-up.  😉

At the end of the day I was coated with egg and soft drink. And dirt. And sweat. Work sweat.

50 years later and I remember that day because it was so damn much fun.

I actually made some money too. You know, I remember tearing through those flats and the 50 cent pieces but I do not remember how much money I made. I remember everything else. The money was nice. But I don’t remember the amount. It was more than fair. We made MORE than minimum wage. We worked hard and we got the order out.

And boy did we have fun.

Does fun matter at work?

Can you remember having fun at work? If you can, I’ll bet it was during a crunch time. I’ll bet really hard work is associated with that “fun” you remember.

Think about it.

Chris Reich

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