Thursday, October 9, 2008

Things I Learn While Sewing....

It took me a minute to get into the flow of the factory. But I'm fairly adaptable, when I have to be, and I accept learning. I like learning, actually. It makes life interesting. It keeps my brain young.

There are things I'm coming to like, maybe even enjoy about the factory. Certainly there are things I don't like. I don't like the 15-minute break bell at 10AM. I don't like the lunch bell. I find myself purposely lagging a little on both ends, just so I don't jump when the bell rings. It's the recalcitrant part of me... my little rebellion. The Trinidadian woman asked me "You nuh 'ear de bell?" when I came back 5 minutes late. "No" I told her truthfully. I had stepped outside to talk on the phone. "Be careful" she said and I shrugged. They can fire me. I need the money but that I don't care about. I hate the bell.

But the supervisor doesn't bother me too much. They said, when they hired me, they needed consistency. So when I say I'm going to be there, I'm there, and I do my best. I made it clear I won't be there on days the Sun is home from school, like today.

But... there are things I do like. I can listen to my iPod while I work. And I'm getting a better handle on the machine. It's the only one I use and I'm getting used to it's rhythm. I like the need for precision... exact measurements. The details of how the batten pocket is constructed appeal to me. It is ordered. There is a reason for the way the thing is constructed and the order in which you must construct it. It is part of a larger piece, and if it is not constructed right, it will not work and the sail could tear.

It's a small factory. Four regular workers; a Dominican lady who wears a lot of purple, the Trinidadian lady, and another small slightly slow Hispanic male. He wears kneepads so that he can crawl as he works, and sometimes he skates on his knees across the smooth factory floor. He's a sometime friend of Thumblina. There is a very young, extremely good looking white kid from Long Island, towheaded and square-jawed. He looks like he comes from wealth and I wonder what breakdown led him to this place. He goes to school part time at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. He had previously gone to some very academic college. He is completely out of place but yet he fits right in. There is an older gentleman who works part time, and like me keeps to himself.

There is my supervisor, who said he has a master's in engineering, and then there is the person who I spoke to about the job. I think his father-in-law is the owner of the business. These two work alongside the rest of us, but also work in the office. There are a few other people in the office but they rarely come into the workroom. And there is the receptionist... one of those maddeningly unenlightened older Caucasian women who wears too red of a lipstick and tends to be a busybody.

The factory is, I'm pretty sure, about the last sailmaking place on the Rock. At one time there were several boatbuilders out here but times have changed. There are still a few marinas and sailing schools, but I guess like everything else, boats are for the most part luxury items and very few can afford them.

The UPS guy comes around 10:30, after the break bell. Yesterday one of the boxes he brought in contained a ripped sail, sent in for repairs. My supervisor pulled the sail out of the box and said "This is what happens when there is a mistake... it tears. This is a $1500 repair job".

I looked around me, at each person quietly doing their own part; someone cutting, someone sewing together already sewn pieces. Later on I watched SquareJawKid and Kneepads work together to fold a giant sail. And I realized that this is what we sometimes forget as we go about our daily lives....

we are all part of what makes life. We are each responsible for our small part, and it is our responsibility to do it to the best of our ability. We owe it to ourselves to do whatever it is we do wholeheartedly, but we also owe it to each other.

The world is full of shortcuts. And people who will take those shortcuts. And I look around me sometimes and wonder why I can't be like the thousands of people I see who only do the bare minimum. They don't give 100% to their work, to their lives, to their relationships, to themselves. They think they are protecting themselves, or saving their energy.

And sometimes I agree with them... sometimes I slack off. Sometimes I want to do the bare minimum, or only do for me... but invariably something happens and I realize that I feel better when I give my all. Yes, it opens me up to a great amount of pain, and I don't like pain. August sucked... in July I had given 100% of myself and August sucked so bad.... but at the same time, the feeling you get from giving your all, the completeness of being yourself 100% somehow makes up for it. I'd certainly rather not be hurt... but I'd rather love completely. I'd rather do my absolute best... sew the straightest line I can, make the best logo I can, cook the best meal I can... than not. When I do, the feeling--however fleeting--is a good one, compared to being haunted by all those things you could have done better.

And it matters, believe it or not. Sometimes it doesn't seem to. We go to work, care for our families, live our everyday and it seems like what we do doesn't matter. We get trampled on sometimes because of it. But it matters. To some one, somewhere... the fact that you offered out your best or didn't give your best can matter a lot to some random person on some random day.

So I'm back to accepting what I am... all-or-nothing. I can't be anything else, even if it means that sometimes I have to deal with nothing. I will wait for my "all". I will do my best, whatever it is that I'm doing. I feel better when I do, and I know it matters... to someone some where... but sometimes it matters only to me.

3 comments:

Carrie said...

Jesi - I hear you. I also don't understand how people can't give their all to whatever they are doing. Maybe it's because so much of our work now is NOT face-to-face so that allows people to try and hide? I don't know. But it's what I'm trying to teach my kids -- you don't have to BE the best, but you MUST try your best. At whatever it is you set out to do.

Which is why I hate doing dishes, because I can't do a half-assed job of it and I HATE that chore. LOL.

Regina said...

Well said...

I just gave a presentation about how we are all "stitched together" into a whole, and how we become something more functional, more beautiful when we work together. Your words say it even better - and I know that feeling you speak of - that little "positive energy high" - it's addicting, too! In a good way!

BigBear said...

It's so interesting to see you learning, that's what life is all about everything you learn is important and impacts on your life. Your Grandma Jesse garcia was a seamstress and felt like you about sewing. She made a coat for you, white corduroy with an eyelet rim collar, she had either glaucoma or bad cataracts, she was in her 90's, she still sewed.