Ahhhh, hurricane season. Hello old friend, I have missed you. With hurricanes pelting our unfortunate neighbours to the south the affects are being swept up coast and onto our Atlantic shores. This just in: tropical storm Leslie is expected to hit the beautiful east coast by Monday or Tuesday and by then it may be a category 2 hurricane, here’s hoping! I suppose I will wear my rain jacket and sou’wester before I bike off to work in the morning.
Rain, wind and general glum weather has perpetually hit the Island this week. It started around Wednesday and we have had only a few breaks in the weather where actual sunshine was present. But I love hurricane season. I love the constant drum of rain like fingers tapping the window, clapping on the roof, and sliding down the walls. I love the smell of the rain and how rain shamelessly gives you the perfect excuse to nap, drink coffee, and curl up with a good book all day. I love the lake sized puddles it makes and I love the freshness and aid to growth it brings. Mmmm, rain, I almost love it as much as snow.
It was much like any other work week as well. I was up to my elbows in cookies and chocolate like any good pastry chef should be. However, on Thursday my boss received a desperate call for help from the cheese factory next door. One of their employees had become ill and they were in need of someone strong and willing to help out in the cheese factory. My boss looked around the room and saw me, I’m sure this thought: ‘Joelle’s young, able, strong, and willing. Heck, she grew up on a farm, she’s built for hard labour,’ crossed my bosses mind and before I knew I was volunteered to help out in the cheese factory. Not that I minded, I am all those things that my boss thought and I am always up for a new adventure.
I arrived in the cheese factory not quite sure what I would be doing. I knew that I would be cold and I would be up high. Hmmmm, perhaps I would be mountain climbing with the cheese. The cheese man, Armen, led me to a walk in fridge the size of a house, no joke, and told me I would be vacuuming cheese mites. That’s right folks, cheese mites. I suited up in white coveralls, rubber boots, and a dust mask, armed myself with the strongest central vacuum I have ever seen and went to town on those little terrors. Now for those of you that know me you know I have a slight aversion to bugs. Especially ones that look like ticks and that would eat their way through my ears. Yuck! I would rather be thrown in a den of wolves than have to deal with bugs. Not only do I have to face my worst fear of being stuck in a box full of microscopic bugs but the smell of aging, molding cheese slaps you in the face and stings the back of your throat, making you wish you didn’t have to breathe to stay alive. The smell of the cheese fridge can only be described as a combination of a wet potato field, a dairy farm, and mould so thick it would give you black lung. Ugh, wretched. But there is a silver lining to this stinky odd job, there is a radio in the cheese fridge so I turned it to my favourite Island station and got my groove on while vacuuming up millions and millions of cheese mites. I am not over exaggerating those numbers either, there are millions of them! The radio made the time pass quickly and as I vacuumed I hummed along to Queen, Boston, Bryan Adams, Phil Collins, Bonnie Tyler, and other such high energy musicians. I didn’t dare open my mouth to sing though, singing would cause me to breathe in more air than needed and I wanted to keep my lungs a healthy rosy pink rather than a fuzzy blue from all the mold.
At the end of the day on Thursday I was asked to return on Friday and like a kind idiot who doesn’t know how to say no to people in need I said, “Sure! I’d love to. Sounds fun,” and returned on Friday for more cheese vacuuming. Sigh. Friday brought a whole new level of cheese vacuuming though. After successfully ridding 5 shelves of the little devils I was instructed to turn the cheese on the bottom shelve. Turning the cheese means just that, I turned it over so that the bottom doesn’t become overly molding. However, the cheese had become so moldy it was blue, and the mold had adhered the cheese to the shelf, so cheese and shelf were one. Disgusting! It was impossibly hard to loosen the cheese from the shelf and by the 15th wheel my arms were exhausted from pushing, pulling and lifting each 20 pound wheel. I was tired, sore, smelled like dead potatoes and wanted to go home. So I took that exhaustion and got angry. I let my blood boil, I got mad at the cheese mites and the cheese wheels and the ridiculous conditions of my job. I leaned back on the milk crate I was sitting on lifted my rubber booted foot, growled, and kicked that cheese until it moved! I kicked the wheels again and again, yelling and grunting with each angry thrust of my legs. Biking to work everyday has put some significant mule sized muscle on my legs and I beat that cheese until it was blue in the face, hee hee, get it? It’s blue with mold so it is blue in the face, haa haa. Sigh. Anyway by the time I was done with that shelf I was a sweaty, angry, cheese mite covered, all kicked out mess. I stomped out of the fridge and ran out of the cheese factory as fast as I could. On my way out Armen complimented me on the job well and thanked me profusely for the help over the past two days, and then he asked, “We could really use you again on Monday, you are a life saver and we really appreciate it. What do you say?” My arm and leg muscles screamed, “Don’t you dare say yes!” But I said, “Sure, I’d love to help out.” Idiot! I am just too kind hearted a person to say no to anyone in need. So I am signed up for another day of cheese torture on Monday. I pray it will be my last day, I hate coming home smelling like cheese, I long for the day when I can come home smelling like chocolate, butter, and sugar. After all this cheese vacuuming nonsense is over I will never complain about smelling like butter again.