My Glamorous Warehouse Career

The summer I turned 14 my parents became very abusive.

They insisted I find work for the summer, instead of sprawling on the living room couch to watch improving television programs like Soupy Sales or the Mike Douglas Show.

I have no idea why they turned so vicious on me, their own flesh and blood, in such a brutal manner. But the fact remains that one fine day in early June I found myself with a weekend job at the Rollins Company Warehouse, conveniently located six blocks from my house.

The warehouse was closed on weekends, and I was expected to sweep up and take out the trash on Saturday, and then bring up empty cardboard boxes from the basement on Sunday to be placed in long rows down the center aisle of the main floor.

And for doing this soul-crushing slave labor I would receive $2.50 per hour. I contemplated leaving home to join the Foreign Legion, but my mother made the best lemon meringue pies on the planet, and I was not quite yet ready to give that up in order to preserve my dignity.

So that first Saturday in June I bicycled down to the warehouse, my dad having previously given me the key to the front door along with a penciled list from the warehouse foreman describing in detail my responsibilities and how to perform them.

The Rollins Warehouse was an ancient brick structure. Built in 1889, it had tall arched windows and the original oak flooring was still extent, albeit warped and patched in places with metal sheets bolted down at the four corners. These sheets were a good quarter inch higher than the surrounding floor, so that the unwary teenager, shuffling along with a surly gait, occasionally tripped over them and took a painful nosedive.

It may be hard to credit in today’s hurly-burly world of warehouse management and inventory management, but  50-some years ago almost every factory and warehouse closed for the entire weekend. Unions and federal legislation had given blue collar workers their weekends off at long last. So I was all by myself in that big dusty warehouse.

And naturally enough, I got up to mischief sooner rather than later. Back in those less complicated and more trusting days a simpleton teenager such as myself would be trusted with the keys to a huge warehouse without a second thought.

At first I conscientiously followed my written instructions to the letter, but soon found my work load tedious beyond the limits of human endurance. So I began to improvise.

There was a nifty trapdoor right in the middle of the main floor, which was raised by hauling on a rough length of sisal rope. I soon discovered that my work went much smoother when I swept up the trash and simply pushed it into the trapdoor, where it fluttered silently down into utter darkness.

The warehouse foreman had indicated in his notes to me that I would be using the basement stairs to haul up the boxes. Instead I hot-wired the freight elevator so I could use it to bring up all the cardboard boxes at once. And instead of folding the flat boxes into squares and then taping the bottom one by one, I simply folded them out and left them untaped  and scattered in the vicinity of the main aisle, helter-skelter.

That way, my work was done in under an hour each day, and since it was expected I would need at least five hours each day to complete my tasks I jimmied the lock on the shipping clerk’s office door and spend many instructive hours watching the tiny black and white TV set he had perched on a file cabinet.

This story should end in an edifying manner by having me found out and given a sound tongue lashing for my egregious dereliction of duty, so I could repent and become a model worker; but strangely enough that never happened.

I finished out my summer’s indenture without any incident. And without much of any kind of thought — except that I decided that working in a warehouse was not what I was cut out to do. Being a circus clown seemed much more sensible to me.

Apparently warehouse management never noticed, or didn’t care, about my sloppy work. Each week the warehouse foreman gave my dad my wages in a small manila envelope, which was glued shut and also had a string twisted around two red buttons on the upper and lower envelope lips to insure perfect security. Dad gave the envelope to my mother, who extracted most of the loot for my savings account at the Farmers and Mechanics Savings and Loan. I was then given the rest — a mere pittance; just enough to buy a Batman comic book and a large fountain drink at the counter of Schnieder’s Drug Store.

Of course, such adolescent shenanigans could not possibly take place in today’s modern warehouse, where software and technology have gotten rid of the cobwebs where a boy like me could goof off with impunity. But just to be on the safe side, you should get with the experts at Brandow Consulting to make sure there aren’t any overlooked nooks and crannies where inefficiency might still lurk.



Invest in Hog Futures!

From the Wall Street Journal:

A shortage of hogs in China is fueling U.S. pork exports, making lean-hog futures one of the best-performing investments this year.

There’s really no part of the hog

that doesn’t leave chefs all agog;

from trotters to lard,

or ears nicely charred

(So tasty as arteries clog!)

Body Art

From the Wall Street Journal:

Miriam Breaugh recalls the awkward moment her father spotted the painting she made with her boyfriend hanging on her bedroom wall, a black-and-white piece with abstract blobs, splatters and several hand prints.

The couple had created it by disrobing, dribbling paint on each other and lying together on the canvas, although that’s hard to know by looking at it. To her father, “I just said, ‘We painted it.’ ”

There is a growing body of work in America by amateur artists like Ms. Breaugh, whose do-it-yourself pieces require little more than nontoxic paint, a large canvas and consenting adults.

Body art goes way back. Prehistoric cave artists stenciled images of their hands. Contemporary artist Yves Klein hosted black-tie exhibition evenings in the 1960s in which nude female models in blue paint maneuvered themselves on canvases; one sold this year for about $1.4 million.

There once was a man from Tahiti

who sat on a bunch of graffiti

still wet, and so he

made art history

by selling his pants for a large fee.

The History Major

Ben Franklin was our president when War Between the States

ended Prohibition and began the Watergates.

Because of Lincoln’s penny we invaded Cuba first;

the Message to Garcia was then finally reversed.

Remember that the Al A Mode in Texas stands revealed

as a racist subtext by that president, Garfield.

So don’t forget in Salem they burned crates of British tea;

and now you know all I know of our glorious history!  

crossing delaware

Mitt Romney

From the Wall Street Journal:

Mitt Romney’s advisers begged him not to go to war with Donald Trump.After he decided to go ahead, Mr. Trump dismissed him as “lightweight” and “failed candidate.” This week, Newt Gingrich called him “pathetic.”

Mr. Romney, sticking to his guns, has become a rare figure in American history—a former presidential nominee openly defying the man succeeding him as his party’s standard-bearer.

Since Romney decided to dump

on backing the candidate Trump,

is he a wise chooser

or just a sore loser

still hoping to go on the stump?


From the Wall Street Journal:

We are in the midst of a robot apocalypse. Instead of wiping us out with liquid metal lasers guns, they’re crushing us with robocalls, those unwanted, pre-recorded intrusions into our private lives. You’re not safe anywhere, not even on your once-sacred smartphone.

My temper has been set ablaze,

as robocalls darken my days.

This type of marauder

should be cannon fodder;

may all their dentition turn baize!

Advocacy Journalism

From the Huffington Post:

Increasingly journalists with strong points of view are giving us news and insights we can’t find elsewhere — particularly in mainstream journalism. Should we even bother any more trying to distinguish between so-called “objective” journalism and advocacy? Many knowledgeable observers now say no.

 A journalist that advocates
is open to various fates:
A Pulitzer Prize
or a poke in the eyes,
or something inside White House gates.

The $15 Minimum Wage

I think that the minimum wage

ought to be raised to the stage

where workers can buy

condos on Molokai,

and pay income tax with outrage. 


Can You Survive Without the Internet and Social Media?


The United States currently has over 287 million internet users; that represents 88.5% of the population.

Mobile devices account for 77% of that usage — and the number is growing exponentially every year.

Worldwide, there are over 900 million Gmail accounts.

There are 310 million active Twitter accounts in the U.S. alone.

There are over 222 million Facebook accounts in the USA.

Just survey your own family:

How many mobile devices do you own and use?

How much time do you spend on emails; on texting; on playing games on the internet?

How much of your daily news do you get online?

And, most importantly, what would you and your family do if the internet were suddenly unavailable to you, and you and your family could no longer access any social media? thinks it’s important for you to be prepared for any emergency or disaster. That’s why they offer the best emergency food storage and survival kit brands on the market. But they also know that man does not live by bread alone; you’ve got to be able to communicate with others during an emergency. And social scientists currently are studying the effects on children and teenagers of a sudden and total cessation of access to social media. Their initial results show that those under the age of 20 often become frightened, depressed, and even paranoid when they are suddenly cut off from their social media accounts for longer than 48 hours.

Astro-physicists now say that solar flares of great magnitude could knock out our cell phones and wifi in an instant, and it could take months to repair the damage. Hackers are becoming more and more adept at breaking into even the most secure data banks, and in sowing viruses that could virtually cripple the internet for years to come, making it unsafe to use.

Here are some suggestions to help you maintain your family’s sanity and peace of mind in an offline world:

Board Games.

Children need to maintain a sense of play and fun, even under emergency conditions. Otherwise their health can degenerate alarmingly, including bouts of diarrhea, bedwetting, loss of appetite, rashes, and disturbing mental quirks. Make sure you and your children learn to play and enjoy games such as Monopoly, Scrabble, or Yahtze; insist on playing them at least once a week. That way, if the internet becomes unavailable your family can still find a break from worry and maintain a sense of normalcy.

Ham Radio.

A starter kit costs as little as $60.00 — if your cell phone won’t work and you don’t have a landline phone (only 33% of Americans still have a landline phone — and that number is dropping rapidly) it may be the only way to communicate long distances.


The National Librarians Association says that reading time for both adults and children has dropped to a mere average of 2 hours per week; in 1965 it was at an average of 20 hours a week. With no TV or movies to stream or social media to entertain and inform, a supply of good books can be a real godsend if you are stuck in your home because of emergency or curfew. Insist that before your children can go online they must read a certain amount of time or a certain amount of books. And make sure you set the example yourself by letting your family see you reading magazines and books.

Don’t depend on debit cards and online banking in an emergency.

Your online banking and debit/credit cards could be compromised at any time. Prepare for that eventuality by keeping a few hundred dollars cash in a baggie in your freezer; paper currency is not affected by cold. Do not hoard thousands at home — that is an invitation to theft and home invasion. But a few hundred dollars in cash kept at home is a prudent strategy for any emergency. Make sure you have it noted and insured on your homeowner’s/renter’s insurance policy.

Good-bye English

The European Union has decided to invite

the English language out into the dark and stormy night.

Since Britain has decided to forgo its membership,

the rest of Europe now will give their language the pink slip.

Don’t expect the Germans or the French to mourn the loss

of a language they could never understand or boss.

With Latin, Greek, and Celtic in a bright linguistic stew,

English don’t take kindly to the logical review.

We who speak it from our birth do love its many vices;

it borrows from all nations the most piquant of their spices.