Tag Archives: mousetrap

A Puzzle

It is funny how some people fit into life just perfectly from the day they are born until they are taken away in a fine pine box. They are like puzzle pieces that have the perfect shape, and colors that fit just where they are supposed to.  They are able to see themselves and their lives stretch out before them and with so many possibilities they find their place in the puzzle early on.

There was a man I once knew who attended college to learn an entirely new language then spent his life creating things from this language. It is fascinating to see how a series of odd numbers, letters, and symbols could be strung together and, once completed, could come to life and help a scientist solve a theory, or a student to write a term paper. He continued to expand his knowledge through books, seminars, and real time learning. He problem solved his way through his career and, in the end, found himself at the pinnacle. He was no longer the student of this language, but the master and teacher of it.

On the other hand, I never quite fit anywhere and found myself wandering through my life flitting from place to place and job to job. I did the obligatory fast food gigs and waitress jobs that are needed to be able to say on an application, “Hey, I really do have experience and I’m actually good at any task that is given to me. Please hire me.” Money was not an issue for me and found that the less money I earned the easier it was to find a job.

From one little job to another I learned many, many things, but never really mastered any one of them. I rebuilt car engines, repaired jet planes, and built mouse traps. I completed four years of college and spent twelve years in the photography industry (which, as it turned out, to be my longest stretch in any one career). I designed jewelry, sold skin care treatments, and made the best chocolate candies your mouth could ever experience. I wrote stories, painted landscapes, and sculpted minor monsters that never terrorized any hamlet or town.

I spent a lifetime doing all of these things and find myself here in this small town doing yet another minor task in a world that is filled with so many major possibilities. I long to turn the clock back so I might find that one thing that I could do for all my days. To fit just right in a jigsaw puzzle. There are those pieces that, with just an arm and a leg, hold two large parts of the puzzle together, or the one that fills part of the edge holding the rest in place. A jigsaw puzzle is what I am a part of and I know that in the end, I will be the final piece of the puzzle. The one piece that has been tested and tried in every place of the puzzle, never quite fitting anywhere, never quite the right shape or color. And, when that last piece is found, and it is held carefully at just the right position, and slid down with a final gentle tap, the puzzle will be complete. All of the pieces would have found their place and with that final piece I will finally find my place. Then, and only then, will I die.

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Filed under Aging, Arbitrary Thoughts, Dreaming

Life in the Mousetrap Factory

One of my first jobs was in a mousetrap factory where we built “Can’t Miss” mousetraps.  I sat in front of a bin, a monstrosity in itself, filled with the wooden 2”x4” bases that all the mechanical killing equipment was attached to.  Each day I sat at my chair with the saw dust smell filling my nose and the sounds of the oily machine as it pulled each plank in, one at a time, and slammed in two staples and the “tail” of the trap.  Eight hours a day I sat and shoved traps into the machine and eight hours a day the traps were spit into a bucket with two staples and a tail.  A small mouse could have easily loaded this empty frame of a trap onto it’s back.  By sliding  it’s arms through the two staples this little fellow would have a bit of armor to fight off any foe that may approach.

There were two of us that stapled the mousetraps on my shift and side by side we had identical work stations with identical bins with the same number of traps in our bins.  To keep things interesting we would have contests each day to see who could staple and tail the most traps in a single shift.  Invariably she would beat me, but I always gave her a good run.  On our record day, we slid and stapled and tailed 45,000 mousetraps.  That’s 46.875 mousetraps a minute each.  Where did all those mousetraps go?  Just think, 45,000 mousetraps each day, five days a week, 56 weeks a year, where two shifts of trap crafters spewed out 25,200,000 traps from this one trap factory each year.  That’s a lot of dead mice.

It has been many years since my life at the mousetrap factory.  I heard that they are still open and still making mousetraps.  My sister found an old trap from the day and sent it to me.  I proudly hang it from my office wall where I gaze upon it knowing that I was a part of this great cause to bring about the reduction of the mouse population.  This one tiny trap has never been a part of the violence that brings fear to every mouse in the United States, but it has been a part of one day that one crafter put two staples and a tail on it.

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Filed under Arbitrary Thoughts