Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hate You Job?

Finding myself between jobs in 1990, a friend suggested contacting an old school mate as the place he worked were always looking to recruit. I knew from the horror story's that the work was rough, but it was only six weeks at most until I could start my proper job, so the call to Dave was made.

Monday, 7am found me waiting outside the hide and Skin warehouse, a subsidiary of Northern (wholesale) butchers, part of a huge abattoir/fat refining complex. The gaffer was an elderly Ukrainian bull of a man called 'Jo' who set me to work salting a grisly pile of cow skins. Stank isn't the word.
The cow hides were semi frozen (it was winter) slimy, and could weigh anything up to 80kg each & the salt wasn't table salt but more reminiscent of the grit that is spread on the roads. They were then weighed, graded, and put on pallets for export.
By lunchtime {which seemed to consist mainly of spliff smoking, well, the nature of the work did tend to dull ones appetite I suppose}  the reason the other blokes were laughing at me carrying out this task became apparent. The salt began to eat into the flesh on my hands, causing extremely painful burns. Gloves were out of the question as you could not grip the slippery hides whilst wearing them.
Lorry after lorry reversed into the freezing, stinking hall and tipped its vile cargo onto the concrete floor before me. Christ, what the fuck have I let myself in for?

After a few days, 'Jo' relented and sent me out with a driver for a week. We went to various slaughterhouses across Yorkshire, picking up sheepskins and cow hides. Often, the hides were still attached to their owners when we arrived. I'd stand in the slaughter hall watching with morbid fascination as cattle were shot in the head, and reduced to their component parts within a few minutes. The worst bit when throwing the skins onto the lorry, was when you got slapped across the face with them, some of them still warm and steaming.
Each evening, when I got home, the Mrs {often retching} would make me strip to my underwear in the back garden, I stank like you wouldn't believe.
I stuck it for the six weeks. The upside? a fiver at the abattoir would get you a carrier bag full of chops, steak, and sausages. Would I do it again?... would I fuck.

Si Richardson.

No comments:

Post a Comment