Life in the Judy Lane

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September 2014: The Dole Truth and Nothing But...

Posted on September 14, 2014 at 8:15 PM

Good friends afforded us the opportunity to spend the night in a luxurious room on the 26th floor of a Hilton resort for our 27th anniversary recently. Overlooking the magnificent San Diego bay, the view from our room was spectacular. As a matter of fact, I was mesmerized.

“What on earth are you looking at for so long?” Pepper asked.

“That Dole barge loading and unloading trailers!” I exclaimed.

“What are you talking about?” she said, incredulously. “The only things that would keep you so engrossed are a fist fight or a couple making out on the lawn.

The whole thing was a fascinating mystery to me. First, did anyone realize that we had a huge Dole factory on the waterfront? What is this, Hawaii?! And, what exactly was going on with the loading and unloading. Were the pineapples coming from Hawaii and being loaded off into the factory? And then canned products being loaded back onto the barge? And who knew pineapples were so popular?!

This went on all night. I know, because I was there at my post every couple of hours to witness the crane going up and down and line of semis hauling trailers driving up to the barge to be loaded. And others driving back from the barge to spaces where the trailers were parked in precision lines.

The company must employee hundreds, I thought. Day, evening and graveyard shifts. Drivers, dock workers, canners and pineapple crushers. My head was spinning.

“I told you not to drink that second champagne split,” Pepper said.

“No, seriously. Don’t you find this all a little odd?”

“You, yes. A working factory not so much.”

But, why pineapples? I could see apples or tomatoes or even oranges. But do people eat that much pineapple? I’ve seen them at buffets, sliced and placed like tiny memorial wreaths on dried up ambrosia salads. Crazy people even put them on their pizzas. But, I honestly can’t remember when I had pineapple except the few times I’ve been to Hawaii. Yet, the industry is obviously booming. Or is it?

“It’s a front!” I screamed, waking Pepper up. “It’s a drug cartel and this Dole thing is the perfect cover!”

“I’m calling the police,” Pepper murmured, half asleep.

“Not yet!” I said. “I haven’t figured everything out.”

“Oh, I’m not calling about the innocent Dole factory. It’s about the crazy woman who broke into my room, plastered herself to the picture window and is making bizarre claims.”

Pineapples are rare. They’re like coconuts. But, no, you don’t see trucks and barges and trailers allegedly filled with coconuts, do you? Of course not. All I can say is that something was fishy and it wasn’t the seafood nets.

“How was your stay?” the clerk asked as we checked out.

“It was very nice,” I said. “But the noise from the…factory…kept us up a bit.”

“Ah, yes,” he said. “The Dole factory.”

“Yes, the ‘Dole’ factory. How about that place?” I asked eyeing him for a hint of a tell-tale sign that my suspicions were correct.

“The company is huge! They have operations in 90 countries and over 75,000 employees. They supply fresh fruit from Hawaii and South America.”

“South America! Yeah!” I said, kicking Pepper. “Probably Colombia, right?”

“All over, I’m sure,” he replied, handing me the portfolio. “Do you ladies need anything else? Directions?”

“Yes,” Pepper said. “Where is the nearest psychiatric hospital?”

“So, I suppose you serve pineapple juice in the restaurant, right?” I continued.

“Uh, no. I don’t think so. Orange. Cranberry. Apple. The usual,” he replied.

“Exactly!” I blurted out. “No coconut juice either, I bet!”

We were pretty sleepy on our drive home, so we hardly spoke.

“You know,” Pepper finally said. “If you happen to tell anyone that we didn’t get much sleep last night, let them think it was for obvious reasons. Don’t mention anything about the stakeout of the Dole factory.”



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