There is a little scar appropriately placed on the middle finger of my left hand that motivates me to attend my classes and study because of the memories it invokes.
It sounds cliche, but I look at it more than I can comfortably admit.
It all started one morning last summer at my job in a meat department. After putting on a white coat and hairnet, I walked into a frigid meat cutting room to start my day. At one point, my boss asked me to put some of the pre-packaged meat out in the cooler, which was pretty routine stuff. The only obstacle — cutting off the plastic ties holding the boxes together.
But that simple task is nearly impossible when your boss doesn't entrust his employees — or rather, just me — with cutters. With tied up meat boxes in front of me, I resorted to using a dull knife they no longer used to saw the ties off.
Feeling as resourceful as Bear Grylls, I began to saw those ties, determined to show the men I worked with that I wasn’t weak. After a few minutes though, the ties were still holding on and my finger was profusely bleeding due to my hand slipping and cutting my fingers.
The only sympathy came from an older meat cutter whose looks and personality vaguely resembled those of Miss Trunchbull from the movie “Matilda.”
Her “sympathy” included screaming and chasing me out of the meat room to go on a scavenger hunt in the warehouse to find a band-aid.
Knives were not the only obstacle in my job. While I am only a “meat wrapper” and not even a “meat cutter,” I’ve had to deal with my fair share of blood, juices of various animals and rotten meat that has turned colors not even Picasso could explain.
These said juices have also ended up anywhere and everywhere. I’ve had salmon juice run down my arm under my sweatshirt, beef blood splatter over my jeans and shoes and pork juice flung into my ear. Yet despite the fluids that would befit the tastes of Hannibal Lecter or Vincent Price, I have not regretted a single moment.
One day, I want to work as a forensic scientist. I’m not sure what branch I want to get involved with yet, but no matter what, I will probably have to deal with some pretty nasty stuff.
The amount of blood at some crime scenes make the “Saw” movies look like child’s play. The smell of a rotting corpse can put the aftermath of your grandmother’s baked bean casserole to shame.
Finding evidence, I’ve heard, is like trying to find “Where’s Waldo” in the candy cane forest.
To put it simply, it isn’t for the faint of heart.
While a job in a meat department is nowhere near what I will experience in the field one day, it’s toughened me up some. Blood never bothered me, but I’ve become more comfortable working with it. I still have a problem with smells, due to a horse pooping in front of my stroller at a local Santa Parade when I was three. I can stomach it now though to get the job done, which will be invaluable in the future.
I’ve also had to deal with horrendous customers, the type who assume since you work in a meat department that you must be incapable at life. Before, I would have gone home and cried. Now, I can go back and laugh about it with my co-workers and move on — a valuable trait in any profession.
No matter what your plans are, don’t undervalue the odd quirky jobs you may have now. That job as a cashier may make you a good businessperson one day because you’ll know what kinds of products sell. Babysitting those horrible children every weekend may make you a good teacher because you’ll be able to handle difficult children.
Therefore, do not hesitate to do that weird job nobody wants to do. Maybe you will love it, maybe you won’t. Just remember it is only temporary. Chances are it will motivate you to stay in school, but teach you things you will need later on in life.
Maybe your employers will trust you with box cutters, too.