9 am to 12 pm volunteer shift, Deseret Meat Packing Plant, Spanish Fork, Utah 20141021

20141021 Deseret Meat Packing Plan Spanish Fork Utah

This morning I had a change of pace, spending just under three hours at a meat packing plant.

1.  I signed up for this opportunity at church on Sunday, October 12.
2.  Yesterday I spoke to a colleague at work.  He volunteered at the plant several months ago.  He spent his time there packaging sliced ham, and during  his shift 1970s rock music was playing the whole time.  A member of my LDS ward spent  his shift assembling cardboard boxes.
3. Today I arrived at the plant just before 9 am, signed in, watched a training cartoon, and visited with other volunteers.
4. One volunteer told me that in the past the LDS Church hds a feedlot some miles south of Spanish Fork, and that the plant in Spanish Fork was actually a slaughterhouse.  I  found some information about this in a 1991 article in the Church News.
5. One of the volunteers just retired as a nurse anesthesiologist.  Another volunteer worked as an operating room nurse for about thirty years.
6. Per the training video, we all put on a hair net, a long white coat, washed our hands, put on cloth gloves for warmth, and put rubber gloves on over the cloth ones.  I wore a sweatshirt underneath the white coat, having been warned that the plant is pretty cold inside.
7.  Walking into the plant’s processing area, we walked through a tray of decontamination solution – – it reminded me of recent television coverage showing protocols followed when treating ebola patients.
8. During the entire shift, just as my colleague had told me, 1970s rock music was playing, interspersed at time times with music from the 1960s and 1980s.  The source of this music as FM 94.1 – – “KODJ (94.1 FM) is a radio station broadcasting a classic hits format. Licensed to Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, the station serves the Salt Lake City area, and is owned by iHeartMedia, Inc..” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KODJ)  “Classic hits is a radio format which generally includes rock and pop music from 1964 to 1987 or 1988.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classic_hits)
9. Until about 10:30 am or so I worked with another volunteer unpacking 80-pound boxes of beef.  These boxes were stacked on pallets – – the stacks were about  7 boxes deep, with about 6 boxes per layer of the stack.  Each box had six large pieces of beef, wrapped in plastic, inside.  We would open the box  by cutting each end of the top with box-cutters, and would then dump the  beef into one end of a large bin.  At the other end of the bin was a conveyor belt with cutting stations on each side.  Two employees were cutting each piece of beef into three pieces, and putting those pieces on the conveyor belt.  We would toss each empty box into a corner, where another worked was pulling all the glued surfaces of the box apart from each other, then flattening the boxes and stacking them.
10. At about 10:30 I was asked to empty the trash cans that held the plastic wrappers that had been removed by the meat cutters – – I was a little surprised at how heavy these were.
11.  The meat cutters then had me and another volunteer station ourselves between the bins and the conveyor belt.  The meat cutters stationed themselves on the other side of the conveyor belt.   The other volunteer and I were each paired with one of the meat cutters – – with a hook we would grab one of the large pieces of meat from the bin, remove the plastic wrapping, throw the wrapping in the trash can, and at the meat cutters’ signal push pieces of meat across the conveyor belt to them.  They would then cut the meat as they had been doing earlier.  There was a lot of blood in some of the plastic wrapping — my fellow volunteer inadvertently got two mouthfuls of blood.
12. At about 11:50 am we started winding down – – there as no more meat in my bin.  We all washed up, and I turned down the sausage they offered each volunteer –  – I never eat it.
13.  I signed out at about 11:56 am.

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