One of the many things that I have done over the years is work as a moving man for Burnham Van Service. that lasted for perhaps a year until I was offered a job more in keeping with my abilities as the bindery foreman for Social Issues Resources Series.
As a moving man, I became assistant manager for their Boca Raton warehouse, but I also took an active part in their on site operations, which included contracts with I.B.M. (their disgruntled employees that were being shifted from one location to another confided in us that the I.B.M. acronym actually stood for "I've Been Moved!") They were very fond of acronyms at IBM! Every cubicle there was supplied with a bulletin board and a blackboard, so after a while, any time we relocated someone's cubicle, I would leave an acronym of my own on their blackboard for them to puzzle out...
S.O.P.A.SA.P. & B.Y.O.B. or U R S.O.L.
Of course, there is another story that this is leading to and it is one that I knew that I would tell eventually. Even though it is totally true, it centers around the ignorance of a poorly educated southern black woman who we had hired as a "packer" to help people box their belongings prior to moving and I dislike to tell stories that might be interpreted as racial slurs (that is certainly NOT my intent!). However, it is real and it was funny at the time, but I feel a tinge of sadness that the young lady could not have had a better education and a better understanding of the world around her.
So I've told the story as a poem...
This poem and about 69 others can be seen on the poetry archive, www.poemhunter.com/karl-stuart-kline
Ignorance can be a terrible thing and this true story from when I worked as a moving man shows how easily a simple statement can be misunderstood...
The African Collection
It was another truck like many others,
But what's inside was always different.
We moved people and we moved their things,
Where they wished to go was where we went.
On request we would provide packers,
Black women who'd work for minimum wages.
Uneducated, but willing workers,
They could easily learn to make packages
This day I helped manage the warehouse
And considered myself fortunate,
Because we received an unusual load
And we felt privileged to view it.
For we were moving a big game hunter
And the truck was loaded with his trophies,
But only some, according to the driver,
Who had seen more of those from overseas.
But these were only North American-
Bison, boars, bears, bighorn sheep,
Pronghorn, cougar, whitetail deer,
Elk, moose and Canadian geese.
That short list was only a part
Of the many specimens that we saw,
Prime samples of the taxidermist's art,
All seemed completely without flaw.
One of our packers was there with us,
A young black girl whose wide eyed reaction
Was absolutely spontaneous
When he told us of the African Collection.
She'd been watching from behind us,
Listening to everything, just as we were.
Her response was outrageous,
Her voice filled with quavering horror.
She couldn't believe what she'd heard,
She was afraid this man hunted Humans!
In a shrill screech, she voiced what she feared,
"You don't stuff no Africans!"