It is a dark and dreary day. My feet are cold. I am on the hunt for a skirt, tights, booties and a blanket. I will pack a bag with food and some warm clothing (never use polyester, fleece and other synthetic fabrics on the way to work), and then I will finally make my way to the factory where Legos are built, or at least more than one person is just standing around doing little things as other Lego minifigures start to appear in front of me like fireworks or newspaper).
When I look at Lego pieces, I feel a mixture of both sadness and desperation. The sadness stems from the fact that I cannot control my fate. I cannot just throw pieces of Lego off a cliff and have it remain there. I am told by the person who has filled out my customer forms that it is very likely that I will get, at most, two more bricks, and although it will be hard to say goodbye to them, I will not see them for many more months.
The desperation stems from the fact that my days at work are limited. It is also a fact that the future is uncertain. Some months will be very full. Others will be full of anxiety. And days like this one will often be filled with both excitement and indecision. And if these days look like the weeks before the holidays and my bed was never full, it is because those days were filled with what I perceived to be full.
I worked at the factory the past three years for my company’s marketing department. This factory, like every Lego factory worldwide, is a bustling place. Around me, hundreds of people work, many of them very young and many of them walking around wearing their company uniforms, which are a uniform of shorts, T-shirts and vests — all of which are revealed to my face only when I look at the diagrams on the form. And yet the scene is filled with pain and hope. There is a strange and even beautiful mixture of these things.
When I look at a piece of Lego I will first search for a shape. I will find it by experimenting with colors, stripes and sculptural possibilities, and then I will search for even the slightest imperfection to fabricate the outline of that shape. A picture of this piece will appear in my head that I can see in the distance — a vague outline that I hope is the right one. Then I will search for the specific piece of the piece and the screw that will break the armature of that armature. My eyes follow that axe, and then I will look for the part that I have forgotten, the piece that includes a component missing from the image. The next step will be to try to “fill in” that missing part, usually by cutting a hole in a piece of cardboard.
A picture of the Lego will then appear in my head that I can see in the distance. I will see the shape, but I will find that the familiar gold eyes of a girl will be missing. I see Lego parts wrapped in bright fabric, but I do not know whether these are my pieces, or whether I am the one that made them. To be someone’s mini-me is a neat and delicious feeling. A sad feeling — but once you possess a piece of a lego, you become part of a tiny Lego world. The Legos are not completely in control of what happens to them; they do not inherit the whole of the world, but they take part in it. I cannot keep my side of the hole, but my decision to move through that hole has a positive effect on the Lego world.
I cross my arms while I work. I try to hide the feelings of sadness, anxiety and anticipation from my face. But as the hours pass, the softness of the fabric becomes harder to disguise. I can no longer hide from the loneliness that I feel when I get in a different van and travel to another factory. The stress grows, as it so often does. It’s very rare to feel like one of the factory workers, or like a Lego owner. Most of the time I feel the same hopelessness I always feel when I cannot find the right Lego. This will always be my story, but now it is also mine — mine forever.