chupacabra.

My Spanish-speaking cellular friend (whose name was Mario) was a big help.  

Part of what we made the factory do was prepare samples, to send out to potential customers.  My boss would spend weeks at a time on the road, and would call back at the end of every day to tell me who he visited, and what we needed to send them.

Invariably, this would happen at 3:30.  The factory closed at 4.  So at 3:30 I would go racing into the factory, find the foreman, and say “I need samples!”

The foreman would then have to have people pull the raw product and the packaging off the various warehouse shelves (we had tens of thousands of square feet of warehouse space, so this was no easy task), set up the heavy equipment to actually package the samples, and after all that work, hand me one battery, or one Value Pack.  

I never felt like it was fair for me to run into the warehouse right before they went home for the day, bark a few orders at them, and then leave – so I would stand there with them, while they made the products.  Some of these machines took two or three men to operate, they were so large.  Almost every day, I was in there at 3:30, and I would leave the factory an hour later, with my samples in my hand – then I would race into the shipping department and make them help me, so that I could get a UPS Next-Day shipment packed up before the final UPS pickup of the day.

This was a daily occurrence.  I felt horribly guilty about making these guys work late all the time, but it wasn’t my fault – it was my boss.

One day, I was standing in the factory with Mario and the factory foreman, and they were carrying on a conversation in Spanish.  I sat there, as I usually did, nodding my head and pretending that I understood them.  The conversation went on for five or ten minutes, and then they burst into laughter.  The foreman patted me on the back, and walked away.

“Did you know you have a nickname?” Mario asked.

“I do?”

“Yep.”  I was pretty proud.  If they gave me a nickname, I must be in the Inner Circle.  One Of The Guys.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Chupacabra.”

I smiled and looked at him.  “How do I pronounce it?”

“Choo-pa-COB-ra.”

“Choo-pa-COB-ra,” I repeated.  “What does it mean?”

“It’s from an old, Dominican legend.  In the Dominican Republic, a lot of the people have livestock.  Some of the people started waking up in the morning, and finding that their goats and cows were dead, with all the blood sucked out of them.”

“Interesting,” I said.

“They invented the legend of this monster.  He’s sort of, like, the Jersey Devil, or like Sasquatch.  When people wake up and find that their livestock is dead, or missing, they blame the Chupacabra.”

I was quiet.

“Translated literally, it means ‘goat sucker.'”

“They call me ‘goat sucker?'”

“Well, yeah.”

“Why?!” I asked.

“Because they work a whole day, and they’re ready to go home.  Then, you come into the factory and ask them to stay late, for free, and make samples for you.  That’s a huge pain in the ass.  You’re sucking the blood right out of them.  You’re the Chupacabra.”

“Get the fuck out of here,” I said.  “They’re so nice to me!  I always thought they liked me.”

“Dude, if you worked in a fucking factory for a living, and some guy came to you every day and made you stay late, set up the machines, make one fucking product, and then put everything away, every single day, would you like that guy?”

~ by Al on April 24, 2009.

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