Tuesday, October 17

Odd Jobs

When BFJ & I ended our Apple Picking Adventure, we had not saved much money, & therefore, rather urgently required accommodation, plus employment.
We applied for employment in the Hospitality industry- perhaps I had a premonition?.
We were rudely turned down, because we were Kiwis- they really only wanted Aussie 'invaders' or other nationalities for their hotels! We were stunned, could not believe it. It just didnt seem correct that locals would be refused employment in favour of transient workers.

I had an opportunity to have this matter redressed some years later, after GOM & I became part of the Hospitality Industry ourselves. Our first Employer happened to be the President of the Hotel Assoc, so I tackled him about their 'policy'- which was largely one of 'unwritten expectation'. Happy to say, he listened & the situation changed, & he agreed with me, that tourists visiting our fair country would expect to be met & served by 'locals' rather than 'foreigners'.

However I digress.
BFJ & I sought any employment we could get- after all money was running low, & though we had managed to find a 'hovel' to rent, we still had to eat!
We finally got a job in a factory, making hot water bottles!
I am sure, like us, you all take your humble hot water bottles for granted. We certainly did, & during that cold winter, we relied on their easy comfort quite often.

When a hot water bottle is made, it starts it's life as a lump of rubber, which is put into a mold & 'cooked'. It comes out of the mold with rubber 'flaps' & lumps hanging off the edges of it. Of course it has no stopper or 'bung' in the top, & scarcely resembles a 'hottie' at all.

Our job was to cut the surplus edges of rubber off the bottles, which entailed the use of huge scissors. Our first days were filled with pain & agony, as our hands adjusted to this horrible job! When there were sufficiently large piles of trimmed bladders, bungs were glued into the tops of the bottles, & a rubber band was placed around the neck of the bottle. This was not an easy job either, as the rubber bands were very tight, & quite hard to place.

Then came the next stage, where the 'bladders' were filled with air, using a hose with compressed air, then immersing the bloated bladders into a tub of water, to check for any air leaks or misglued bungs. When things got a bit quiet on our floor, every now & then one of the girls would over fill a bladder & explode it, with tremendously loud explosions. Our supervisor would come running out to see what the hell was going on, & we would all disolve into laughter. On really hot days it was almost unbearable on our floor, as it was situated above the molding section, & there was no airconditioning so the windows were generally opened wide.

There were about 8-10 girls employed to make the bottles, & as it was not a demanding job mentally, we used to always devise ways to amuse ourselves. I was known as the hairdresser, & I used to cut the girl's hair in the toilets! Incredible as it may seem, we would also 'set' each other's hair, & many hairdressing sessions would be in half done mode when our supervisor walked through to check on things. We must have made his life a misery, but we had a lot of fun. We would on occasion get almost hysterical with laughter, & it was a fun time to look back on.

When there was a lull in bottle production some of us would be put onto assembling 3 pin plugs for electrical cords, & that was another mind numbing job, which required plenty of diversion, to keep things lively. Some of the girls were travellers, like BFJ & I, & money was always short. We used to say, "Bring your own pie, & come to our flat for tea." Two Aussie girls who had lived very sheltered lives at home, had their first taste of wild freedom doing this odd job, & added to the hilarity with innocent misunderstandings of our Kiwi ways.

One of the girls I met then, remains a friend to this day. She was married, & she & her husband did their best to partner me off with one of their rellies, or friends. I had met GOM, by this time, & they did not approve of him at all- he was 'not good enough for me' & I must admit whenever he met them, he usually acted the fool, deliberately. However, they named their first born after me, & by that time I was married to GOM, - they had revised their opinion of him too.

I wonder if hot water bottles are still made this way?? I suspect they are, but probably in some foreign country!


Anonymous said...

That is such an interesting story! I never thought about the way that hot water bottles are made before. I also love that you are still friends with one of the girls you met there!

Bec of the Ladies Lounge said...

Great yarn, meggie: and educational to boot!

meggie said...

Yes Bec, after I posted it, I thought who the hell cares how the hell hot water bottles are made??
I know we didnt have a clue when we got the job... it was rude awakening.
But we didnt want a 'good' job, we had travel in our sights, & did in fact only stay for 7 months, & I left for the North again.

GOM chased me... but that is another story!

slap me happy said...

that would have been a fun job too, I lvoe hearing stories from others lives. Nice memory's.
Thanks for coming over to my blog
till next time