I've started a new job and I wanted to share my experience with you all:
This Boy I've been seeing is a grower at a medical marijuana farm out in the east island, and last week he offered to put a word in for me to work there for their picks. Since the farm is shutting down because of upcoming redefining of independent grow-op legal status (new laws, new standards), every plant is going to have to be picked by the end of April. This means a lot of work has come up. Of course I jumped on its since I've been (unsuccessfully) looking for work for months now.
Boy warned me I'd need a full change of clothes including shoes because I will reek of cannabis after a shift. I borrowed his old slippers cause I don't have a pair of shoes I can totally fuck up with hash resin.
Here's how it went:
We get up at 6:30, coffee up, and jump into the back of his brother's pickup truck for the long drive to the farm. Brother brings his lab/pointer puppy with him, and she sleeps with her head on my lap the whole way (cuuuuuuute). We take the highway east, driving through increasingly industrial scenery, low slung strip malls and warehouse buildings lining the river, with giant cargo ships along the banks. The sun is only just coming up. When we're nearly there we stop for more coffee, run into most of the other pickers grabbing their own morning double double. It all feels pretty legit and friendly, like a family.
The building itself is mostly pretty dim. We drive through the double garage doors and park inside, let the pup out to run around and get her adorable self up in everyone's business. I'm pointed toward the lady's change room (nice of them to provide). The men's change room is also the lunch room with huge windows pointing inward to the main building so I'm glad I don't have to use it.
Boy shows me where they keep the clippers and hands me a few sets of blue polyethylene gloves. (Foreshadowing: I'll average 2 plants a pair because the hash resin is so damn sticky it makes picking really slow.) We pass by a bunch of growing paraphernalia, the drying room, etc. and he tells me what it's all for. The room we stop at is so blindingly bright it takes my eyes a second to adjust. Huge, bright, and HOT lamps hanging low everywhere. Lucky there's AC. The room is already full of ripe plants and people chatting and getting settled. We pull up two lawn chairs, two empty buckets for collecting bud, one overturned bucket (for our water, snacks, extra gloves, and cigarettes), and two Purple Kush plants as tall as I am. It smells heavenly.
As it turns out PK is actually really easy to pick. The bud is satisfyingly large and easy to identify among the leaves. I'm only just learning proper technique but I manage to get 10 plants in in 4 hours, which I hear is not bad. Another girl around my age who's been picking for years gets 21 plants, and she is GOOD. Absolutely no waste, she has an excellent eye. I'd like to watch her pick for a bit next time and learn a few things.
The stories Boy told me about the old ex-junkie dudes who sit at the back spitting sexist and racist remarks turn out to be true. At one point I go to the back of the room to pick up more plants and get a few pretty lazy cat calls, but everyone else is like "fuck off, leave her alone" so I don't feel too unsafe. No one likes these guys, they are constantly harassing the older women (who unfortunately seem to enjoy goading them) and the one talkative black man. Some of the comments are so obviously inflammatory that no one seems sure how to react other then "augh that's not nice". While I'm trying to get a sense of the rapport and level of seriousness we are dealing with I am kicking myself for not saying anything and standing up for the guy, especially. He answers with levity but it's obvious that he's bothered. I don't want to call attention to myself because, though it seems like everyone has my back with these characters, I don't want to put myself in a position of danger. In my regular circles I would never second guess my reaction to a clearly gross situation, but these guys are an unknown quantity, and I come away from it feeling equal parts indignant and cowardly.
We finish early, and after lunch and then cleanup we change out of our grotty clothes. My whole body is sticky and my arms are a little irritated from the oils my skin is not used to coming into contact with. Next time I'll wear a top with long sleeves. We keep the gloves we wore, a little bonus of pure hash that's collected thickly on the fingers that can be frozen and scraped off. Boy and I ride home with puppy and Brother, falling asleep in the back seat.
Overall, with the exception of a couple of ass monkeys trying to ruin everyone's day, it was a peaceful, pleasant experience. I made enough money to live until I get my EI, and I enjoyed myself. The owner says I'm welcome to come pick any time they have a harvest from now to closing. I think I will.
Have any of you guys done piece work? How about agricultural labour? What kinds of people did you meet? How was the work? Since this was my first time doing blue collar work (besides my brief warehouse stint 7 yrs ago) I'm very interested in hearing stories!