Hand to Mouth

by Colleen Michaels

The new girl who thinks she owns the tape dispenser is back again. I thought she’d last about a week. Most fold after a week. Janet from shipping keeps a pool going. She gave this one three days. But now this new girl is back. I saw her talking with the front office girls this morning, the ones who wear bootcut pants like my daughter does and keep hand cream on their desks. They say working at a paper company dries out their skin and that the carpet under their desks is filled with static electricity. Poor babies.

Everyone at the work table knows the tape dispenser is mine. I line the invitations faster than anyone. I can even work quickly with the slippery Mylar paper, which can be a real bitch. I’ve got a system. I put the envelope down, flap up, give it three small pieces of double-stick tape, eyeball the liner, and lay it in neat and straight. If I were a cook, I could bone the shit out of a chicken. The guys in the press room call me “The Machine,” and they send the biggest orders my way. I don’t even need Band-Aids anymore.

Once I did the wedding invitations for Demi Moore and Emilio Estevez. Not many people remember that they were engaged. I keep waiting to see the invites show up on eBay, because I know we all snagged one to take home. Sometimes the guys who cut stock will pull aside extra for us. We each have our own little stash. Right now we’re working on getting the stock to put together Janet’s grandson’s first communion cards. We’re a team like that, helping each other out.

The new girl keeps asking me annoying questions. “Where do you recommend for lunch?” I don’t. Janet and I always bring pasta in Tupperware. Everyone knows that. “Do you think I should suggest handmade paper for a more dramatic effect?” No. I think she should just read what the P.O. says and start taping. And this one I just love, “Do you find the language on most wedding invitations to be more traditional or contemporary?” Do I find? I find that when I’m paid by the piece, I don’t have time to think about questions. I wish she would just listen to her music with headphones like the other new girls who don’t last.

(first appeared in
Constellations vol. 2)