A day in the life of a Fish-Packer, by Sara Lund

This holiday I went and worked up in Oban, Scotland for two weeks. I was double checking smoked fish, in a warehouse with no windows, and then passing the products on to people who would pack them in polystyrene boxes and send them to customers. To give an insight into the work here’s my daily routine:

7.00 am Alarm goes off, roll over and try to go back to sleep
7.05 am Alarm goes off again, turn on radio, clamber out of bed and put on clothes, which already smell of fish, surprise surprise!
7.20 am Cook porridge for breakfast and make sandwiches to take to work. Eat breakfast in silence as too tired for conversation
7.50 am Run upstairs, brush teeth, put on another layer of fishy clothes, shove on wellies and trek to the Warehouse
8.00 am Arrive at the warehouse, grab a cup of coffee and get double checking
8.00-10.00 am First shift, usually manage to check around 100 orders in this time. BBC Radio 1 starts to get annoying when it plays the same Bruno Mars song for the fifth time in two hours!
10.00-10.15 am 1st Coffee Break of the day, second cup of coffee and a chocolate biscuit. Conversation kept to the minimal as people are already tired; not a good sign!
10.15-12.00 am Second shift spent double checking more vacuum packed fish.
12.00-12.30 pm Lunch Break which usually consisted of a cheese toasty, a cup of coffee and more chocolate; carb loading to the max!
12.30-3.00 pm By far the longest shift of the day and definitely the hardest to get through, another lovely session of double checking; which is making sure that all the products which the customer wants are there, checking the quantities are correct and using the date gun to add a best before date to the products.
3.00-3.15 pm 2nd Coffee Break of the day, fourth cup of coffee and third chocolate biscuit consumed. Another silent break as the fatigue and sun deprivation (didn’t see the sun for 2 weeks when I was working up there) kicks in.
3.15-5.00 pm The fourth shift spent double checking more fish, oh the joys.
5.00-5.30 pm Dinner Break
5.30-8.00 pm Last shift of the day. Highlight is when the boss of the company comes round and hands out sweets at 7.00 pm to all the workers


My holiday job was hard work, sometimes I hated it but it was worth it when I got my first ever pay check at the end of the two weeks I was working! The people I was working with were completely different to my usual circle; most of them had started working at 13 and dropped out of school by 16 to work. I feel I’ve learnt a lot about myself this past holiday not only because of the people I’ve met but I also feel I’ve experienced an aspect of the “real world” that many of my friends may never experience. My boss, at the end of the two weeks, asked me whether I would be interested in returning to work next Christmas. My reply= “Asking me now, there is no way that I would even consider it but contact me in the summer, when I need the money, and I have a feeling the answer will be different”.

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