The highlight of our childish creativity was The Bunker, a hollowed out cluster of unused shelving, walled with a carefully crafted facade of boxes that concealed an inner homemade bar. To the untrained eye, it wouldn’t even garner a second look; it was identical to any other normal, mundane, ordinary wall of boxes. However, this particular Great Wall of Cardboard masterfully concealed a super-secret hideout within that rivaled something that a James Bond villain would have constructed, or perhaps it resembled the lair of some comic book bad guy. In it was our headquarters, our command tent, our private lounge that served as our secret war cabinet. Our Round Table, with each of us looking to fill our Holy Grails with whatever was on tap that day. The effort that went into crafting bubble wrap and cardboard La-Z-Boy recliners and cotton stuffed sleeping mats was labor intensive. Not to mention surreptitiously loading our liquid stash in and out through the drop down hatch that we cut through the wood slats of the pallets that served as the roof. Our cooler was always stocked to the gills with a variety of suds. This was the real deal for us. That was our debaucherous shrine, and we’d retreat to The Bunker to devour a few bottles or cups of the drink of the day, every day. And when we weren’t in our venerated safe zone, we’d just down our spirits from the red plastic Solo cups in broad daylight like it was a house party. Like we owned the joint.
We developed into exceptional drinkers; a functional alcoholism that allowed us to perform at our best with just the right amount of whiskey flowing through our veins. We’d field instructions, calmly attend meetings, and cheerfully converse with the front office staff while being lit to the core on liters of Rum and Diet Dr. Pepper. And no one was the wiser. It was the only way we were able to make it through the monotony of the day, a monotony which by now I hope you sincerely feel. It was an alcohol fueled, fun steeped binge that lasted for years, and invariably suffused our livers and our minds with loads of lasting good memories. But all good things must end at some point, right? The question ticked in my brain every single day, like a turgid time bomb just waiting to explode; what the hell was my purpose? There had to be something that I was good at in life. Thoughts like this lingered in my head on a regular basis as I walked the aisles up and down filling orders. Whatever that ‘something’ was, wasting away under layers of box dust was not it. What was I good at? I was in my twenties, but felt as if I was past my prime, or as if I’d missed the ferry to Success Town. I felt utterly left behind by life, and my fun, yet counterproductive daily dealings only resigned me to that early grave and kept me pinned tightly. There just had to be more to life than this.
We bought ninja stars and throwing knives online and hurled them like major league pitchers at anything that we could puncture. Nothing was safe from our alcohol infused ninja wrath, as boxes, bags, and everything in between fell victim to our onslaught. We fancied as ourselves blue collar sportsmen as well, and developed our own Olympic caliber games, such as the legendary sports of Warehouse Tennis, Wall Ball, and the venerated Quarterback Challenge. We shoved hunks of raw meat and random bits of leftover lunch under a broken crevice in the concrete floor one entire summer just to see how many maggots and critters that we could attract to it. Needless to say, we succeeded in attracting a city’s worth of bugs to that hole like animals to the Ark. You name it, we did it; nothing was off limits, no dare was too great, no joke was unworthy. Great cardboard tubes that once held monstrous fabric rolls became fabled swords and wicked spears, and hole-riddled boxes stood as a testament to the epic battles and wars that we waged against each other to pass the hours. I was an Obi Wan with a cardboard tube. And the time did fly, let me tell you. It passed in a drunken haze; we spent untold fortunes of cash nearly every day on bottles of booze, bottles that we’d skillfully guzzle throughout the day by the cupful, right before the eyes of management and the front office. We toted our red Solo cups around with pride in fact, and downed our spirits in front of all who dared enter our sanctuary. We practically dared them to approach us about it. And we only got busted once. Our livers suffered greatly while playing the role of a Brita filter that summer, yet we became remarkably adept at getting the job done while being loaded to the gills on whiskey, rum, and whatever other distilled goodness we could muster. The very definition of functioning alcoholics. We were a well-oiled machine, though our gears were greased with Jack and Coke.