The 5 most awesome things about working in a styrofoam factory

I work in a styrofoam factory. It’s awesome. Here are the top 5 awesome things about it.

I stacked these.


1. I don’t have to talk to anyone.. It’s so loud there’s no chance for chitchat. The absence of small talk is delightful. I don’t even have to smile. Once in a while I have to exchange a sentence or two with someone, and I haven’t completely lost that reflex to smile when making eye contact thing that’s part of growing up in California, but it’s a nice change to have a job where my job performance is in no way related to my smiling or small-talking skills. Very refreshing after years and years of customer service type jobs. After a few more months of this I might be completely small-talk-detoxed and then I’ll be ready for my next customer service job again. But for now this is awesome. (Important note to potential employers: I’m really really good at customer service and small talk when I have to be, just in case anyone reading this wants to give me my next job!)

Stacking and taping.

2. The sounds are awesome. I mentioned it’s loud. It is deafeningly loud. Like industrial music all day long. And that’s my favorite kind of music! I swear one machine sounds makes the exact sounds from the beginning of a Nine Inch Nails song. And another one reminds me of a sample in a Front Line Assembly song. And depending where I’m standing the clash bang screech woosh pow sounds mesh together into riffs from other songs. I guess giant machines make the same kids of sounds all over the world, or all those bands were hanging out in stytrofoam factories. Probably the former. But I get these sounds going in my head, and memories of old favorite songs surfacing that I hadn’t thought about or listened to in years. And that’s awesome.

The Rainbow Machine. Not its official name. But see, so rainbowy.

3. The sounds are awesome. The sounds are so awesome they get two points. When I’m not hearing music I’m hearing roller coasters. Those sounds a roller coaster makes when the cars stop and the lap bars lift? Yeah, the machines make those sounds. And the sounds they make when the roller coaster starts off and gets dragged up that first clacking hill, they make those too. I can hear it, feel the anticipation, pretend I’m waiting  in line. Or I can pretend I’m building one, it’s a roller coaster factory instead! Or it’s an amusement park for invisible miniature aliens and the machines are the rides. Or I can imagine actual trips to real roller coasters with my kids this summer and daydream about being somewhere that’s NOT a styrofoam factory. Ah, but I’m trying to focus on the positives here, so let’s move on to number 4.

Styrofoam boxes being birthed.

4. It’s a job. This is a more mundane and serious one, but apparently a 43-year old woman with 5 kids, an utenlandsk name, and a holey-as-Swiss-cheese resume isn’t very hireable. I don’t know if I should blame it on xenophobia, ageism, lots-of-kids-ism, or just my complete lack of “career path”, plus the fact that part-time jobs are scarce in this area of Norway these days. Whatever it is, I’ve been job-searching unsuccessfully for almost a year now and it’s depressing. So now I have a job, that fits in with my family life and I get to hear industrial music and roller coasters and not talk to anyone almost at all for 4 hours per day. It’s awesome.

Stacked. And taped.

5. I get to think. With the lack of talking, and all the cool background music playing (in my head) I have time to think and think about stuff I want to write. As a mom of 5 I don’t get much downtime at home. I almost never get to sit and zone out and think in front of my computer. But these hours of stacking and taping towers of boxes gives my mind plenty of time to run free and the words start flowing. Thoughts and ideas galore. And oh, the emails I’ve answered in my head! If you’re waiting for an email from me, I’ve answered it, in my head! Of course I never get to write anything down and most of it vaporizes by the time I get home, like waking from a styrofoam factory dream. But at least I get the chance to get lost in my own thoughts for a few hours each day. Luxurious. Awesome.

Today I did get the chance to sit down at the computer and write and this list was the only thing I could remember. I read an article that said blog posts written as lists are really popular, which I believe because I see them all the time. I suspect that the popularity has something to do with universality, a quality my “middle-aged mama of 5 working in a styrofoam factory” list may be lacking. But that’s ok. Mostly I’m writing this down to clear the mental space, so that next time I get to sit down and write maybe I’ll remember one of the other awesome things I’ve composed in my head. In the meantime I’ll be stacking and taping.


6 thoughts on “The 5 most awesome things about working in a styrofoam factory

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