Once at the Picnic warehouse, I introduce myself to my supervisor for the day. He hands me a Picnic polo shirt. “Now you’re presentable!” he says, smiling. We walk past the cafeteria, where paper cups are scattered across the floor. The supervisor laughs again. “Oh no, a mess has occurred!”

While delivering, the supervisor explains the order of the actions I must perform. He begins with: ‘you give the shutter a big stud down, then it will open’. The subsequent instructions about scanning crates and efficient unloading didn’t quite stick. When I pull down the shutter, I pull open my index finger. A jet of blood forms a dark red stain on the white cart.

On the way to the next neighborhood, the supervisor talks about himself. “I’m really coffee-addicted man, I need that shit. I easily drink ten cups a day.”

I like this job, so I ask a follow-up question. “Do you drink a lot of tea as well?”

“No man. You know what it is with tea? That shit is boring taste-wise.”

“Yeah, I get it. I used to know this guy who got private saxophone lessons at home. One time he had lessons while I was there, so I sat at the kitchen table, reading some Donald Duckies. When they finished, the guy’s father came in and he asks this teacher if he ‘would you like something to drink?’”

The supervisor interrupts me. A flap on the side clappers open and close against the cart. “You didn’t push it shut hard enough, the attendant says as he hangs out the window of the moving cart and slams the flap hard. “There, fixed.”

I continue my story: “So, the guy is like ‘yeah, okay, sure’ and that father offers him hot water. That teacher, of course, is like ‘huh, hot water?’ and the father is like ‘yeah, I really recommend it! I exclusively drink hot water now. I find coffee too strong, and tea gets boring, but hot water never bores!’”

The attendant chuckles forcedly. “Sick.”

Towards the end of the shift, I am slightly better at delivering. Chatting with people at the door during delivery is going fairly well. However, I do have to plug the cart in twelve times while parking at the warehouse. The attendant says he’s going for a quick smoke. Waiting in an office, I decide I do want to work at Picnic. Once back, the supervisor tells me he doesn’t think I’m right for Picnic. “You’re more of a thinker than a doer.”

Onno Gieszen 3 columnist 2023_Pauline Wiersema_Levien Willemse

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