One summer I worked night shift at a junk mail factory.

* make us famous

My chief occupation was sorting envelopes; doing this for eight hours at a stretch will rip your cuticles completely apart.  I liked to imagine the expressions on people’s faces when they received the bloodied envelope promising them cheap life insurance or a chance at the big money prize.

Nobody was really there at night except the sorting crew and the night manager. She had a huge scar across her stomach from some kind of medical procedure that involved taking out parts of several of her internal organs and a couple whole ones.  For a long time after the surgery, she said, she would lie awake at night and feel her guts sloshing around, rearranging and adjusting to all the newly emptied-out space inside her “like a fucking alien squishing around in there.”

During slowdowns we would get bored and start playing with the equipment.  The game of the pallet-wrapping machine was to stand on the rotating base like a human stack of boxes while the machine swathed you in spiraling layers of industrial plastic cling wrap.  This was fine if it stayed on an even keel, but the upward swing went too high while this guy Chris was on the dais and started wrapping his face until he began gasping for breath and fell over because his arms were pinned to his sides.  The goal had been to make the greatest mummy costume ever, but Chris looked more like a larva or a butterfly cocoon.  Some quick thinker with a steady exacto hand cut a slit over his mouth until we could peel the layers of resistant plastic off him.  

Another pastime involved sticking different body parts into the strapping machine, a device that slaps a tight plastic band around an open tray of mail to hold it together.  Bracelets and anklets and belts were for pussies, and nobody would accept the cock ring challenge, so the ultimate achievement involved aligning your head just right, pushing the foot pedal, and not cringing at the sudden loud noise while it shot a band around your throat. Then seeing who could get it the tightest, then seeing who could stand it the longest before they started to freak out or pass out and it had to be cut off their neck.  

One dude got fixated on it and kept trying to sneak away for some autoerotically asphyxiatory alone time. We kept following him to make sure he didn’t die because fuck having to deal with his jizz-stained corpse. Although we probably would have just left it for the day shift