Music's Like a Snuggie for Your Soul


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Salt Mine Tour with O-town

Do you ever send things back? (I don't, not because i don't intend to, but because i'm a terrible adult.) Have you ever thought about the automatons who open that shlonk, slang the refunds and return anything suitable back to the shelf? Well that's our jam now. Olive and i moved from picking after a year and a half and i'm now co-managing the Returns/Warranties and Repairs Department. 

I used to repair rafts for a different raft manufacturer, so i had previous skills to draw from there. As far as training/coordinating and supervising other people, well, if i had the option to take the pay cut and not be in charge of anyone, i'd leap at it like a Jack Russell after a peanut butter bacon Frisbee. (I'd known this about myself, but alas!)

The returns detail can be both entertaining and challenging. Even though talking on the phone and negotiating sometimes marshy warranty territory doesn't play to my strengths exactly, (I didn't get the phone-talking gene; i was not that teenager.) it's nice to be able to wear more than one hat.

And people are nuts, there's that. Most days i'm reassured maybe i'm not the nuttiest nut brain out there, or i'm amused at the things people say or do. (Maybe river people are a particularly quirky subset of the population.)

Here's where the repair trolls hang out. We fix drysuits and drysuit gaskets, manual pumps, electric pumps, inflatable SUPs, inflatable kayaks and sometimes rafts. We just got a new shiny hood so we look all legit now. (We sort of had a hood before, but it was really a couple of no-longer-functioning computer fans that used to vent fumes up to an upper mezzanine. In the heat of the summer pickers would have to go up there for merchandise and get blasted with Tolulene and 100°+ F/40° C heat.) So grateful that has improved.

The chartreuse Medusa mess coming out of the trash can is masking tape. (I'm a dirty hippie, so i save and reuse it until the stickem's all gone.)

See how lucky? Getting paid to play in a magical box castle is quite prossibly all my wildest dreams come true! The racks are suits in the queue. We're pretty inundated right now with all of the fire departments and boaters gearing up for spring runoff. (Each suit takes about 2 hours and there are probably 70 suits hanging in waiting with more arriving daily.) There are a few college students who come in for a glue fix a few times a week so that's generally helpful.

180° From Repairsatopia is Return Central


This is my station. That table behind the chair is the one i smashed my face into a few weeks ago. We have a really nice climate-controlled call center on the other side of that wall, but i'm content being out in the box fort with rest of the riff-raff.

It's a good place to work. (It could be a great place to work, but i'm a toad and we won't go there now!) We're sort of the Wal-mart of paddle sports. We've outsourced almost all of our production. (Our raft frames are made here and most of our rafts are made in Mexico but most everything else is manufactured overseas.) Thankfully all of our customer service and marketing has yet to be contracted-out elsewhere and likely never will. 

One neat thing is that we're employee-owned. Though it's easy to wonder, after seeing defective things day in and day out, if you only have a stake in a ship that's actively sinking. Yet we seem to grow every year, and my understanding is we've almost paid off a huge debt to the bank that was incurred for some reason in the employee-ownership transition.  

Welp O-town is pooped. Admittedly i've only photographed a fraction of the whole she-bang. Looking beyond Olive is only about a third of our main facility. There's heaps more warehouse not pictured behind me, a half dozen pack stations, more bay doors, rows and rows and rows and rows of shelves and boxes, a rope and material cutting station, our admin offices and a small front retail room where people can shop locally. We have one more huge warehouse in town and a big aluminum-sided frameshop building across the street with big drill press-a-ma-jigs, saws and metal-bendy tools and things.

Some days my job can be tedious and doesn't allow for much in the way of artistic license. Thankfully i get to listen to music! By all accounts and figures i should be totally sick of First Aid Kit, but i can't get enough of them: 

If you have more time on your hands:


  1. I love First Aid Kit -- you always post the best music. I think I heard about Laura Marling from you a while back, didn't I?

  2. Well, I love having a window onto your life. It doesn't look like a terrible place to be.
    Is that your dog? Beautiful.

  3. Ah ha! Your photo and alias are mysterious. Your list of topics, a good hint. Dog and dog's! Writing style... read you in the Shepp journal... smirky ball of love. You found my blog, and then I found yours!! kismet at first sight. I do love how you and I can make any job the best job ever and at the same time the worst in the entire galaxy. Totally livin' the dream. Come back to the river.. missin you my friend Alison. hugs and kisses, Jane

  4. I think I heard about Laura Marling from you a while back, didn't I?



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