The New Job

It's day three at the brewery. The back still aches a bit and is stiff; I'm dog ass tired because I'm having to get used to a new sleep schedule (I've never held a job where I had to be at work at 7 a.m. before for a reason); and I really like what I'm doing.

I've been training in the part of the brewery that some refer to as the medieval torture room--the rack room. It's the place where we clean and fill beer kegs, and we average 90-100 kegs per hour. It's basically a two-person job, unless you're dealing with small or pony kegs, and we rotate jobs so one person isn't having to do all the heavy work.

One person takes the old kegs--and they often have some nasty, filthy shit on them--gives them a cursory wash, eyeballs the gaskets to see if there's any obvious leaks, and upends them onto the washer. Usually, they're mostly or completely empty, so they're about 35 pounds apiece. If they're more than half full, then we have to drain them before sending them through the system.

Once they're filled with beer, the other guy gets to have his fun. They come down a series of rollers, cross a scale that we check to make sure the keg is full, and then we spray the tap with alcohol, cover it with a plastic cap and a sleeve that identifies the beer type and the date it was made, and we roll it onto a pallet. Rolling is important since full kegs weigh anywhere from 134-140 pounds apiece--thus the aching and stiff back.

Still, I've apparently been handling it better than other new people have in the past. I've been told that most new people have to take a day or two off after their first couple of days in either the rack room or the bottle shop, to get over the soreness. In my case, I think it's more because at age 35, I know my body and what it can and can't do, and so I take shortcuts more willingly. I have no ego to bruise as far as my physical prowess is concerned.

It feels good to get back into the world of physical labor again. I like feeling that I've earned my sleep at the end of the day, and boy do I feel tired.

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