This I Believe

Robert - Hoofddorp, Netherlands
Entered on May 22, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: carpe diem
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Fruit-stickers

I believe that those annoying little labels that come affixed to your fruit, be it banana, apple, or what ever; make common ground for us all. I am sure they are for decoration only and I will ignore any attempt to convince me that they are for quality assurance. Nevertheless, what do you do with them?

I grew up working in a machine shop. Mom packed my lunches and she made sure that I had two sandwiches, an yoghurt a bag of chips maybe a candy bar and one piece of fruit. Almost always these pieces of fruit had a little sticker. What do you do with it if you did not accidentally eat it? At that time, I had a toolbox and would re-stick them on the side. I was not the only one who did this, my brothers also and many a colleague. I was not very organized in my collection with almost random placing. My brother Raymond had methodical approach to placing his. Rodney would put them on anything that was in reach, I think Richard just ate his. No matter which brother you looked at, each would mark his day. Everyday, a new sticker; sometimes the same, others not. I paid no attention to the importance until much later when I realized that this single act was a common thread among many who work in machine shops.

As the days quickly turned to years and then decades, I found myself in many machine shops of the world. No matter if, I was in China, Romania, Ireland or anywhere USA. I always came across a person who would invariably stick his fruit stickers on his toolbox or machine or a wall. Some times in neat rows or in massive collages. To me, I realized that no matter where we are, we mark our time in whatever medium is available. We may speak different languages go to lunch a little different but in the end, the day is marked not by that calendar in the break room, but next to the milling machine or a lathe or a 100 ton press.

So, when I am getting breakfast from a buffet line in some non-descript hotel and find a fruit sticker on my kiwi, I pull it off. Moreover, with little fan fair; I open my brief case and re-stick it in one of the inside flaps. It is another day, another sticker. When I finish breakfast and head to a new facility, I’ll be looking for those annoying stickers. I’ll feel better about a place if there is someone there who “collects” his days.