Daniel P. Barron

Fired from Colorblends

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Ever since one of my tweets got mentioned on some liberal blogi as an example of conservative gun-nuts saying mean things about the congressman who got shot in the face, which lead to a deluge of angry phone calls to my employer, I tried to keep the details of my job a secret from the internet facing side of my life. The company is called Colorblends, and they import flower bulbs from the Netherlands. To their credit, I wasn’t fired then for the tweet, or for my all-around anti-democracy pro-Bible beliefs. It is was a very laid-back work environment — not in the sense that we didn’t do much, but in the sense that as long as we got the work done it wasn’t a problem what else went on. And I was very good at what I did, which I guess is called logistics. I unloaded containers, sometimes at midnight. I put together LTLii orders, scheduled trucks to pick them up, and loaded them. Sounds like a boring gig, except that when you’re shipping spring-flowering bulbs, it means 80% of your product has to be shipped in the month of October. Apparently I thrive in the sort of chaotic environment induced by such a precariously short time-frame.

I didn’t start off in the warehouse. My first point of contact with the company was through the IT guy back in 2008. I was “taking a semester off” from collegeiii at the time, and found an ad on craigslist in the meantime. It was for a “junior web developer” position, and apparently I impressed the guy with my hand-typed HTML resume. For two years I labored in the office, trying to make sense of his atrocious PHP code well enough to make it render valid markup on the other end. Towards the end of my second year there, I learned that my work on the “development server” couldn’t be implemented because all along my superioriv had been working on the live server. I threw a fit and informed the owner of the company I wouldn’t be working in the office anymore, but I was interested in coming back for seasonal work in the warehouse.

For the next 8 years I would alternate between living at work and living with my father. The shipping season lasted from the end of August all the way into January, but most of the work took place in October. I mostly stuck around in the winter because it gave me access to several vehicles, two houses, a warehouse, and a full kitchen. That and there’s no reason to be in Westbrook when it isn’t summer. The company had two houses adjacent to the warehouse specifically for the seasonal workers; both filled up for a couple months, and then I had the rest of the time to myself. Most of the other guys got shipped over from Europe, and one guy from Jamaica. We all got along well; there’s a camaraderie among guys who live and work together.v The office folk were another breed.

What started off as a playful rivalry between “office monkeys” and “warehouse monkeys” eventually became a very serious fight between the cancerous, pant-suited, politically-correct impulse, and the laissez faire, anything goes as long as you get your work done. It came to a head over the cliche warehouse tradition: girly pictures. We would keep a pallet of old newspapers from the Netherlands, cut them into pieces, and stuff them in orders as a sort of “touch of Holland.” The thing is, Dutch newspapers don’t have the same puritanical restriction as those in the U.S. and would sometimes contain half-naked or outright nude photographs. So the guys would find them, cut them out, and paste them up on the wall. For years this went on, and the women in the office didn’t mind. The owner didn’t mind either; the only guy who seemed to care was that same computer guy I formerly worked under. Not content to limit his pretentiousness to his own career choice, nor to the effeminate way he walked around and dressed, he had to make it look as though “our warehouse doesn’t do that sort of thing.”vi Last year he hired what was probably the third itterationvii of what I had originally been hired to do — some woman who I guess made a less than neutral remark about the warehouse girly pictures. So mr-pantsuit finally had justification to get them torn down.

Up until this point I didn’t care about the pictures. They were posted around the strapping machine and I was over in the LTL section. It never struck me as a thing to worry about; I didn’t care to post them up myself. But when I heard they pressured the Jamaican guy into taking them down, it irritated me.viii I said, “I bet if I put them up in my section, no one will tell me to take them down.” So I did, and they didn’t. Even when the pictures mysteriously disappeared, my boss “didn’t know” what happened. It didn’t take me long to figure out that the newbie IT-slave saw them to which she remarked something along the lines of, “what are these doing back up?” And mr-should-have-stayed-a-chef took it upon himself to remove them.

I formed a plan. I knew it would be too distracting to just let it blow over. I figured it wouldn’t do any good to go yell at him; afterall, he’s technically in the right what with the political climate in USistan. So when night fell, I printed out a stack of #trilema pr0n,ix and proceeded to tape them up on every wall of the office shared by mr-i-cant-believe-trump-won and his hireling. “He wants my pictures? I’ll give him pictures!”

I was gone the next day. At first it was “take the day off” which later became “pack up your stuff and move out tonight.” I knew they’d be upset, but I never would have guessed they’d get rid of their most valuable worker right at the peak of shipping.x I also didn’t count on them flying the Polish kid back over last minute even though he said he was done with it because he was starting his garage business after having married his high-school sweetheart.xi Which is more to my credit; I trained the guy. Nobody in the warehouse could believe it either.xii Even the original two women in the office were perplexed.

And that’s how I got fired from Colorblends. None of this is to say they are a bad company, and if you are interested in getting top quality spring flowering bulbs at wholesale prices, please do check out their website.xiii

  1. Which as since been deleted? I can’t find it. The blog, that is; my tweet is still up.
  2. Less-than truck load. One or more pallets, but not so many to mostly fill a truck.
  3. I had finished calculus 2 in the previous semester, and hated the professor who taught it. She would have us write reports on what key combinations to press on our TI-89 calculators in order to solve whatever problem. The next math course in my curiculum was only availible by the same awful professor, and I decided to wait till the next cycle and try for a better one. Conversely, my calculus 1 professor was one of the best; dude would come in looking like he just blazed, and go through the optional homework one problem at a time by taking a voluteer from the class to do it on the board, clearing his throat disapprovingly if a mistake was written.
  4. In name only — this guy probably thinks JavaScript is the best way out of a paper bag. He previously worked in food service or something until mid-life crisis lead him into the much more hip vocation of computer programming — a real shame on two fronts, because his code is a major drag on the rest of the company, and because he used to cook spectacular meals for lunch.
  5. We would eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner together. We shared 2 coffee breaks a day. We went on field trips to New York City. We attended concerts. We went fishing. There was hardly a thing we didn’t do together.
  6. From the perspective of those in the know, our warehouse was already a cut above the rest. I have testimony from countless truck drivers that ours was their favorite stop. We had a loading dock and a forklift for one, and we always had our stuff ready to go and even loaded it for them. All without cussing them out. Apparently that happens a lot at other warehouses.
  7. I was not the only one to get burned out working with this guy.
  8. He stands hunched over a plastic-fuming machine all day. Let the man have his pictures!
  9. In my defense, I limited to just those pictures with bare breasts; nothing hardcore.
  10. Seriously, this all went down in the middle of October. That week and the one to follow were the most intense weeks.
  11. Apparently it’s Polish tradition that you don’t get married until you have a career?
  12. Funny thing though, a guy I said early on shouldn’t be there because he was lazy and did things wrong, but the boss kept him around anyway for what I can only assume was more pantsuitism of the “diversity” flavor, made the remark: “if Daniel can get fired, anyone can get fired.” And I heard afterwards that sure enough, he won’t be coming back next season.
  13. On second thought, you probably shouldn’t; it’s always screwing orders up. Better to just call in and request a catalog, and call again in a few months when you know what you want. That way you get to talk to one of the lovely ladies in the office, and get your hands on the best piece of printed material in the business. And put your order in early; things sell out fast! The number is 1-888-TIP-TOES. Tell them Daniel sent ya.

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