Lessons learned in a clothing distribution centre

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For the past five months I worked full-time in a clothing distribution centre of a fairly big Dutch clothing brand. I packaged orders at the webshop, threw products onto a conveyor belt, unpacked and put products in storage, etc. It wasn’t my first choice of jobs, but, you know, writers also have bills to pay.

I learned a lot from my experience there though. Here are some of the things I took away from it:

  • ANY job is better than no job. Even if all you do is sticker price tags all day, it’s still better than sitting at home useless and parasitically living off other people.
  • Any work can be fulfilling if you’re continually learning new things and getting better at it.
  • If you have nice, fun colleagues it vastly improves your general experience. They are invaluable in this kind of repetitive work.
  • Repetitive actions, like folding and storing clothes, can be meditative and calming; they also give you an excellent opportunity to come up with solutions to problems in your creative projects.
  • Any attempt to wear cute clothes and chunky jewellery when you do physical work is futile.
  • Learn from others who have been at the job longer. Try methods that you see others use, even if it seems illogical to you. It will help you in the long run.
  • Make tasks as easy on yourself as possible. Doing something the hard way won’t impress anyone.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask men for help for something that requires physical strength. You may think you’re strong and tough and can totally do all the things the boys can, but sometimes you’ll just unnecessarily injure yourself if you lift something that’s too heavy for you.
  • A lot more clothes can fit in a box than you expect. Sometimes, you’ll think no, it’s way too much, there’s too big a pile sticking out at the top, it’ll never fit. Just close the box; it’ll fit.
  • Always wash new clothes.
  • The best way to wake up on a work morning is by putting on some cheerful music and singing along loudly. At work, cheerful music is also great to keep motivated.
  • Speaking of music, what the Dutch call fout (‘wrong’, meaning something like guilty pleasure) music is significantly more enjoyable than the modern pop shit on the radio.
  • A positive mindset improves every experience (one of those lessons that you have to learn over and over again).

Picture by Jim Killock

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Music Review – Stray From the Path’s Only Death is Real

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Say what you will about the current political situation, it does make for some damn fine music.

Stray From the Path’s Only Death is Real is a relentless attack against the present U.S. administration, and its supporters, from start to finish. SFTP have made brutal, confrontational political music before, but not to this degree.

Only Death wastes no time in engaging the listener and demanding them to pick a side. “You with us or the enemy?” in ‘The Opening Move’. This polarisation is characteristic of the album as a whole. Every song shoves SFTP’s political views down your throat, leaving you no room to breathe. It sounds great if you agree with them. If you don’t… Well, you probably won’t listen to this album for long.

Musically, SFTP have not changed much. Rage Against the Machine influenced riffs, punishing breakdowns that make you yearn for a moshpit, vocals that are more rapped than sung. The first couple of songs on Only Death sound very exciting. But then they tend to bleed into each other. The only standout tracks are ‘Goodnight Alt-Right’, ‘The House Always Wins’ and ‘Only Death is Real’.

There are some gems in the long-running stream of vitriol though. The opening of ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ for one: “Everything has its price, but the price is wrong bitch.” SFTP do have a knack for creating killer opening lines. Lines that you can’t help but belt out as loud as you can wherever you are, whatever you’re doing. I also love the breakdown in ‘Plead the Fifth’, with the lyrics “Welcome to the melting pot motherfucker. If you don’t like it, then get the fuck out.” And, of course, Keith Buckley kills it in ‘Strange Fiction’.

Only Death is a good album overall. However, it doesn’t have the same replay value as SFTP’s previous couple of albums. It’s too specifically political and has too little innovation.

Rating: 7/10

Recommended for fans of Rage Against the Machine, Hatebreed, Stick To Your Guns etc.

The best thing about travelling

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There are a lot of nice things about travelling. You get to temporarily escape your daily, hopefully not so dreary, life, explore new, exciting places, meet new, inspiring people; just to name a couple. I enjoy all of these. But what I consider to be the best?

The necessity of living out of a suitcase, or backpack.

It sounds trivial compared to what I mentioned first. It probably sounds like one of the more irksome parts of travelling too. Hell, I used to hate being confined to a suitcase when I went on vacation as a kid. I always thought I needed ALL MY THINGS all the time, so I overpacked my battered suitcase within an inch of its life. I would have to jump on it with my full weight and beat it closed, while desperately battling the THINGS spilling out of all three open sides. Then of course I could barely lift the thing and it would be too heavy for the airplane and I had to take crap out and there would be arguments with my parents. Oh, these vacations never started well.

I’ve learned a lot since then. I’ve become more critical about my values. I’ve gotten less materialistic, I hope. Now, whenever I pack for a trip I don’t start by piling all the convenient things in a suitcase. I start by considering how little I want to carry around. Over the years I’ve come to loathe carrying around too much crap. Have you ever gotten horribly lost on your way to a ho(s)tel with painfully heavy luggage in your hands? Nightmare.

When I pack for a trip, I think more critically about what I truly need. About what I truly value in my life. Do I really need a different outfit every other day? Both my laptop and my tablet? A whole grocery bag full of snacks in case I have trouble finding vegan food?

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My space is limited, my personal carrying capacity is limited. What I take with me has to be worth the space and the hassle. I’ve found that there are rather few things that are worth that.

The suitcase I have now is almost half the size of the suitcases I used to take with me on vacation. I once bought it for a short trip to London of about a week, because my regular suitcase was too big. I was hilarious, really. For a week-long trip I could now live out of my school backpack. The suitcase I once considered small is now my go-to suitcase for all longer airplane trips, and WGT. I usually have room left in it*.

It is unbelievably freeing to travel with as little as possible. When you’re not as weighed down with THINGS, an infinite amount of roads seem to be open to you. Your personal limitations seem to dissolve. You seem to have more space to breathe.

I wouldn’t trade that freedom for anything in the world. Not for my beloved gothic lolita wardrobe, not for dozens of my favourite books, not for any convenient gadgets. When I have to live out of a suitcase, or backpack, I realise again and again how little all those excess material things mean to me.

Sure, it’s nice that those things are waiting for me when I get back home, but it’s nicer to know that I could do without.

* The exception, of course, is for WGT. Goth vanity kills me.

Pictures by Luc Mercelis and Manto Prestipino