Summer in a furniture factory

During the summer holiday at the age of fifteen, she worked at the Kanizsa Furniture Factory in her hometown in Hungary. When they turned up with her schoolmate friend, the people did not really know what to do with them. It seemed most of the jobs required some training and the girls could only observe. The factory operated in two shifts a day with designated breaks. The start and finish of the working days and mandatory breaks were signaled with a loud whistle, so everyone in the factory could hear even in the noisiest of environments. She often heard this sound from her home but before working in the factory she paid little attention to it. The girls’ working days became divided by these breaks and the sound of the whistle. They were moved around the factory, for a period we worked watching the upholsterers at work. The workers found their presence entertaining and told them horror stories about the nail gun, accidents where they shot into their feet, hands, nails or other parts of their bodies. By the end of the factory working day, the girls have graduated to shoot a few nails into the upholstery. In the break, they joined people gathered by work groups having their coffee or lunch. At another period, the girls were sent to the foam storage area. In an about 5-meters-tall shed, huge mountains of foam mattresses and smaller pieces were piled up high. The girls were supposed to do their work there, but they did not know what exactly they were expected to do. Nobody else was present. They decided to have fun, climbed up on to the highest areas and jumped down. No one came to tell them otherwise. They got very tired and rested in the piles until the whistle was blown and they could join others. By this age, she has realized that working does not mean to really do work. She saw many people idling, chatting or filling up their times with whatever they could. She knew that this summer job was organized for her just to have a job, so that she did something meaningful with her time and get some work experience and a little money, as working students earned quite little. It was also a job that was given to the girls as a favor. Probably the girl’s father secured it in return for something he did for the director of the furniture factory, maybe in exchange for a turkey from the cooperative. Perhaps that was also one of the reasons why they did not want to give the girls real work. They were just there as extra bodies not good for productive work or too good for some menial work.