On one side of the orange padded door there is ambient workplace noise. On the other there is a cacaphony of jackhammering-like noises and shouting.. You're on the jackhammering side of the door now, the scary side, the ugly rat-tat-tat sounds vaguely muffled by foam earplugs. Workers are screaming, screaming their anger, or perhaps angry from having to scream. A woman half your age is training you.
"CAP THE PEN!" she bellows when you forget to enclose the Sharpie a second time. You're on a temp job. You're a teacher, well, you're supposed to be, not a pallet jack operator. You tentatively steer the heavy handcart this way and that, bumping into mountains of boxes as foremen slap their foreheads; steering like a drunk American on London streets, but soon you get it, You sense the staff is disappointed at your new-found competence. They like to scream. Maybe they are angry.
You push gargantuan cereal bins into place, careful, no mountains of Mayan Sunshine Flakes on the floor, sweating in your regulation lab coat, long pants, socks and closed toed shoes, frantically getting a rhythm down. You're an automated creature, a Morlock, a character on Roseanne, surrounded by factory workers from central casting. You're somewhere between old you and life's been hard for a long time you; a former Miami Jewish princess in a blue hairnet, sweaty and maroon faced, frantically filling bins of cereal in exchange for rent money.
Jackhammering, jackhammering,, factory workers trying to get some fun playing air guitar on cereal stirring paddles. Smelly Mayan Sunshine flakes shooting out without mercy. Pallet jack a bin, move it across the factory, get the blue liner in it, maneuver it behind the almost full bin ready to push it under the chute, no mountain of flakes on the floor (like before), record the density, CAP THE PEN, stir, repeat, repeat, repeat, 12 hours of muffled jackhammering. Scream "Stop watching me!" at the toxic male manager who wants you to fail. "I graduated college with a 3.85 GPA!" you scream at his back, knowing he can't hear you, grateful, seconds later, that he couldn't. Like you're Stephen Hawking. Like he's less than you.
Factory workers living a life of never-ending gears and chutes and tanks and smelly Mayan Sunshine Flakes and screaming. Four 12 hours on, three days off, riding in on motorcycles, wistfully musing of winning lottery tickets, jackhammering, jackhammering, smelly Mayan Sunshine Flakes, "Maybe tomorrow I'll be oatmeal! Or cinnamon!" so the shouted parlance goes, perceived better areas in this noisy, sweaty, resigned karmic hell.
Twenty four hour jackhammer factory, billions of Mayan Sunshine Flakes, one the size of a Moonpie, you break it to pieces with your stirring paddle (which you'll never, ever play air guitar with). You'll go back to teaching children, you promise yourself you will. You'll go back to crowded classrooms, judgey principals, defiant students and convoluted math. You'll put in 60 hours a week, even weekends, you will, you will, as long as it gets you out this relentless muffled jackhammering failed life, because if you don't get out of here who knows what other kinds of worthless, ridiculous things you'll soon be screaming at people who can't hear you- and wouldn't care if they could.