I was folding garments at work last week when a mechanic came by to perform some regular maintenance on my machine. I didn't recognize him at all.

"Hi, what's your name?"


"I'm just going to replace the teflon on your machine."

"Oh yeah, thanks. It's been needing that for a little while."

He is short and small and slender with dark skin and a wide smile. He speaks with a thick accent that I don't fully recognize.

When he's finished, he starts watching me fold to make sure that his repairs are working properly.

"How fast are you-- or, what is your percentage?"

He's talking about how quickly I fold in relation to standard proficiency. 100% proficiency is the standard requirement.

"Why? Um, I guess I haven't been paying attention lately . . . I could tell you how much money I'm making lately though. . ."

"No-that's okay. Just like, how fast do you usually go, or how fast have you gone?"

"I guess I usually operate at about between 170- 180%, but my record is 230%."

"Oh yeah. You seem pretty fast. I used to fold in Salt Lake and I broke the record there."

Let me explain that I am the fastest folder at the American Fork plant. I am the only person allowed to work part-time right now because I am so fast that they were willing to make an exception to keep me working there.
But I have heard incredible rumors about the fastest folders in Salt Lake. There are stories about folders who need two people standing at the end their conveyor belt to pack the finished garments into boxes. Supposedly the garments come down so fast that it's way too much for one person to juggle.

I am completely astonished.

"Really?! How fast did you fold?"

"I averaged between 210- and 235%."



"So you had to have two people box them up?"


At this point, our conversation has caught the attention of everyone standing nearby and he looks a little embarrassed. They all start insisting that he fold, so we can admire his expertise, and he reluctantly agrees.

I have never seen anyone look more graceful doing something so mundane.

I notice his wedding ring: a small, gold band with 3 tiny diamonds. I start imagining his wife and children at home that have motivated him to work so hard. And I recognize myself wishing that I look just a little bit like him while I'm folding.

He stops, and shyly says," Ah, you guys are going to get me in trouble." And smiling at all of us, he walks away briskly to repair the next machine.


micemilk said...

ABOVE 200%!!! freak! that means you get silver, which means i get the GOLD in binding! haha.

so laura, personal question... do you fold your unmentionables the same way as you do the ones at work? i fold my tops the same way they came out of the package... they still have the original crease.

Marie said...

I must say, I am in awe.

Laura said...

wow carrie. I've gotta say I'm not really so good at folding my unmentionables in any proper way. I'm so tired of folding them at work that I don't worry about it so much at home. Good for you.
Have you compared your percentage with the SLC champs? You get a gold anyway. Congrats.

w. leavitt said...

the drunken master!