Lessons learned in a clothing distribution centre

rack_jimkillock

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

Complacency

You know the feeling.

You think you have everything you want. You have a stable job, a stable relationship, a stable plan for your future. You go out and have fun often enough, at the same old places with the same old people. You’re comfortable and seemingly happy in your predictable life. It doesn’t even occur to you to do anything else than you’re doing right now.

Sure, you did have dreams about moving abroad and joining a band, but they have long faded into the dark corners of your mind. You still like the city where you’re currently living. You’re not that good at singing anyway. Why make any drastic changes?

You’re happy.

At least, that’s what you tell yourself.

You fail to notice how much you are limiting yourself and your experiences. You fail to notice how small your world has become. This is what’s necessary right now, this is what’s necessary right now. This is what it means to be a grown-up.

Jokes about committing suicide creep back in. Really, they’re just jokes. These are just tears of laughter.

This is starting to seem bleak and hopeless. But there is good news! You are not alone in this world. There are many people out there who refuse to settle for complacency. Unconventional, adventurous, loving, inspiring, ecstatic, encouraging, hilarious, creative, optimistic, free-spirited people. People committed to living life to its fullest. Like stars whizzing through space. And if their stardust touches you, you’ll never be the same.