The next couple of months were utter chaos in every sense. Every morning, I woke up to the sound of my alarm ringing and hustled to join in the mad rush for the day. By the time I complete my morning ritual, especially on those days I added another ten minutes to my sleep time, I usually had to do a mad dash to the nearest bus stop. Shoes half worn with untied laces, bag strapped to one arm, my other hand struggling to find the arm hole of my jacket sleeve and my free hand furiously pressing the pedestrian call button and wishing the lights change from green to red. My house was just after a traffic light on a major road in Merrylands and to catch the 907 bus to Parramatta every morning, I had to cross to the other side of the road. This meant sometimes I caught the bus just before it takes off and other times, the bus leaves while I’m stuck at a red light. When the latter happens, I have to trek for about ten minutes to the train station which often felt like I was dragging a sack of potatoes up a hilly road.
Waking up early to catch the train meant that I usually boarded during peak hours. I hated peak hours especially in the mornings. I had to stand in the train for about forty five minutes till I got off at Chatswood or about thirty five minutes if I got off at Wynyard station because there were no free seats left. Standing for a couple of minutes was not the main issue. It was that the train was always so full. No one wanted to be late for work so we all found a tiny space on the train to squeeze into. Those few minutes always felt like I was on the brink of suffocating. Because of the close proximity of people standing next to me, I felt like I couldn’t quite get enough oxygen and even if I managed to catch a deep breath, I would inhale various scents of slight body odour or a strong waft of scented perfume someone had used too much of. The conflicting scents of people’s perfumes made my empty stomach nauseous and for the first ten to twenty minutes of the ride, I would mostly feel light headed and would hold on tightly to the standing poles in the train, other times, I would sit on one of the steps leading to the upper or lower carriage. I considered these occasions a good morning.
I was usually one of the first set of workers to arrive at the warehouse, Evaton Trophies. This wasn’t because I was big on punctuality; getting to work earlier meant that I got paid for an extra hour. The warehouse usually officially opened at around 8am but only the manager, Mariana comes in; full operation starts around 9.30am. I usually resumed around 9am but during the busy periods, I could get away with resuming around 8.40am. Upon resumption, I would drop my school bag on the marble stack at the front corner of the warehouse just outside the office door and proceed to grab a trolley. I had a favourite trolley and it was the one that was still coated in blue with no rickety noise but on some days I had to pick the rickety noisy and rusted trolley because the others had orders from the previous day still on them. As time went on, the trolley noise was welcomed because it overshadowed the worries in my head.
With my trolley dragging behind me, I would walk to the table up front to get my picking list and proceed to pick my orders. The warehouse was really large and had aisles from letters A to O and little subsections named Eva and Tony. There was also the Up-Eva section and Up-Tony section. I had been working at the warehouse for about a year when I suddenly realised these weren’t just ordinary names, they were the combined names that formed the company name Eva & Tony- EVATON. Working in a warehouse was physically and mentally engaging such that I mostly didn’t think about anything else other than picking what was on my list and picking the right amount. It was very routine- like; constantly picking orders and offloading upfront repeatedly all day long. There were about 8 workers everyday thus, we were instructed to pick orders alphabetically to ensure operations moved seamlessly and there was no loitering around in the guise of waiting for someone to finish picking before another person starts. I spent most of my days picking trophy parts (cups, stems, base etc.), ribbons, plaques awards and lifting various sizes of marbles in pieces or a pack of 24. It was a physically demanding job and we were on our feet for the most part walking to and fro inside the warehouse. At about 4.00pm, most of us would be sent to the packing section.We wrapped, packed and taped different orders and put them in various sections to be shipped.
After all of the packing was done, we did some general cleaning to keep the warehouse and its environment neat, then its home time. While on the bus, I would take some time to research any assessments I have and start getting them done, If I didn’t have any, I used the time spent on the bus and train to sleep. For the next few months, this was my routine but this would also change in the long run.