When no calls came in Monday morning I realized we had been fired. It was a passive aggressive first and I was immensely relieved. Picking kiwifruit for eight hours was not as fun as I had imagined. The mud slowly seeped into my shoes and kiwifruit dust, like the prickly hairs that coat barber shop floors, fell onto my face and stung my eyes. My shoulders and neck felt sprained and on top of all that we had to listen to our coworker’s fanny pack stereo system. His choice of music: female power love ballads. It was really too much to handle.
Tuesday morning dawned with more promise. A girl at our hostel mentioned vacant positions at her kiwifruit packhouse, so we went early and waited an hour to fill out the paperwork. Luck was on our side that day- we filled the last two night shifts at Seeka Oakside.
Later that night, with a cup of tasteless cafeteria tea in hand, we peered out the windows facing the factory floor. The large rectangular machine in front of us, which ran the whole floor of the building, was the one we would be working on. It was a rapid kiwifruit courier system of on-ramps, off-ramps, pedestrian underpasses and overpasses. It was as loud as a busy highway.
The most striking sound came from the small plastic cups which coursed the entire machine. Like a writer furiously jabbing at their typewriter, the cups clacked each time they dropped a kiwifruit. After a few hours I had translated the foreign sounds of the factory into useful phrases:
Get off your ass and work. Now.
Kiwis are coming.
Clank clank clank swoooosh.
Tuck the bag and press the box flaps down.
Clank clank clank swooooooosh clank clank clank.
Caw Cawcaw Cawww.
Stay out of here, dirty birds.