Sleeping with the Stasi for stockings
Updated: Jun 11
Turned up to the shift today, with the other furloughed folk; graduates on an impromptu production line, a sort of elective cultural revolution. The making of face visors takes place in the school at the end of my road in suburban Leeds; it’s normally a Specialist Sports Academy thingy, but during lockdown staff members are patrolling the socially distanced lines of volunteers assembling the four bits of plastic to make essential PPE. I’m on the 11.30-1.30 shift. There’s been ups and downs. On the plus side, there was a bag of fruit to take home every day. To begin with, also tea and coffee till they realised shared stirrers was a contaminant risk. So it went to bottled water. Same story with food. The best of times was the first couple of days when a local bakery sent in sour dough sandwiches, and there was even pizza. Also deemed risky, because of the gannet-like gathering to collect same. So then it switched to fresh doughnuts and once even lemon muffins. Then it got worse; just biscuits, brought round by the supervisors.
And the parts (if you’ll excuse the expression). There were good days and bad days. It was an education to me how very important it became to have them all lined up for optimal ergonomic progress, and how annoying it was when you got a batch of shields where the six pop out holes into which you slot the first of three plastic strips didn’t pop easily. Well, mate, we’re giving up our time here – want to do a good job. Then there were supply and quality problems. As well as the bracing strip that slots onto the flat shield there’s a strip that shapes the visor to the face, and then a third, adjustable, piece to go round the back of the head. Sometimes there were problems with the quality of the strips. Sometimes supplies actually ran out, and all there was to do was the monotonous peeling off of plastic film from each side of the shield. No slipping straps into place. No satisfaction of completing your visors, filing up the box (rows of seven, side by side, four layers). There was nearly a riot. So I started wondering what do you have to do to get the bits you need to do a satisfactory job? Who do you have to smile at? Or who can you dob in to get hold of what you need? Like sleeping with the Stasi for stockings. I looked around. I’m sure that guy with the abs protruding through his tee shirt had been out more than once for a run. And that woman over there – I saw her outside Aldi, not standing behind the 2m line.
Dean cruises past; makes it clear he’s noticed I’m not wearing a bra (well come on, who bothers these days?) ‘Everything alright, love? Got everything you need?’ I glance around. ‘Well, now you mention it…’
Written by HANNAH STONE
Artwork 'Good Intentions' by LUNA ZSIGO