The Box Throwers: Skateboarding’s Working Stiffs

The Box Throwers: Skateboarding’s Working Stiffs

The Box Throwers

Words By Rory Parker

All in all, I’m a pretty restless person.  I’m not sure whether it’s a virtue or one more of the many personality quirks that work to my detriment, but I just can’t seem to sit still, to find any sort of satisfaction within the mundane qualities of everyday life especially the workaday life of a working stiff. 

While this makes for a rather interesting existence, it doesn’t allow me any sort of real rest.  I’m constantly looking forward, to my next accomplishment, my next goal, my next naked drunken sprint-down a busy street.  And, i’m exhausted with it sometimes, it being life.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the myth of Sisyphus. It’s a pretty famous Greek myth, but if you haven’t heard of it I’ll give a quick rundown.  Sisyphus pissed off the gods (for what isn’t really clear, the details vary with the teller) and as punishment was sentenced to push a rock up a hill in Hell.  Only, every time he got to the top, the fucking rock rolled back down.  For all eternity, pushing that damn rock, with no reason for it, and no end in sight.  Such a mindless, meaningless existence is my worst nightmare.

But, if you sit down and think about it, Sisyphus leads the same life we all do.  There is an inescapable futility in our existence.  No matter what we do, none of our actions make a lick of difference.  When you die, it all goes back to zero, all those days of hard work, all those sleepless nights, they were all for naught.  But, don’t think of this as a sad, scary notion.  Rather, it can be freeing.

By no means am I the first person to view life like this.  In fact, Albert Camus* wrote a pretty interesting little essay on the myth, comparing it to life in much the same way, though he took a different view of its implications.  In Camus’s opinion we, every one of us, is Sisyphus.  But, he urges us to love the toil of life.  “Don’t try to reach the top,” he cries, “Learn to love the act of pushing itself.”  Every scrape, every agony, every little resistance that you have to overcome to move forward; that is the stuff of life, and the man who learns to love the struggle for itself is going to find true happiness.  But, I ask you, what happiness can exist in a life without reward?

Well, I put it to you that there is none.  At least, in my eyes.  I’ve long since ceased any profession of allegiance to the societal goals that were set before us as children.  Because, at face, any goals set for us by others cannot offer true fulfillment.  Rather, by following someone else’s path you cannot hope to find yourself at any desired destination.  More likely you’ll become lost, too far along to set back, and with no clear end in sight.

But, this article isn’t about me.  It’s about four men who’ve learned to love the struggle.  Four guys who are happy in their life, without the dread consideration of aspiration.  Oh, and they’re good skaters too.  Really fucking good.

Andrew Colin Loading Dock Pole Jam. Photo by Tadashi

Nate, Matt, Andrew and Eric all work in shipping they are working stiffs of skateboarding.  They work for Earth Products, The Kayo Corp, Tum Yeto and Black Box, respectively.  And, the thing is, they all love their jobs.

This knowledge came as a surprise to me, one of my many jobs was doing the exact same thing, and I hated it.  The monotony and meaningless of it were overwhelmingly oppressive.  Also, I was a lazy employee and was eventually fired.  But, somehow, these guys find fulfillment in it.

When I first went about doing the legwork to write this article I expected quite a different experience.  I can be bit of an intellectual snob, and I just figured that these dudes who were in their twenties and still working a shipping job would either be shiftless or burnouts.  In no case was this true.  In fact, they all came across as pretty damn astute fellas, with outside interests and a life that they love.  And, I respect that.

Nate Romer

Nate Roemer blows my mind, he’s twenty-one and he is already married; with a beautiful baby girl to boot.  Fuck, man, I couldn’t hang.  Work your ass off all day long, then go home and deal with the family situation.   But, he’s happy, and that’s about all any one of us can really hope for.

Nate Romer Switch Kickflip. Photo: Lusteg

Matt Worley’s been at Kayo Corp on and off since high school.  He’s interned, worked his way up, and plans on staying in the industry, doing what he’s doing, and movin‚ on up the ladder.  He seemed like the type of guy who’ll make it too.  I hope so, but the skateboard industry can be a harsh mistress, and loyalty usually comes back to bite you in the ass.  That last one was more of a life lesson.

Matt Worley at his home away from home: Kayo Corp.

Before, when I said they were all content, I guess that was a bit of an overgeneralization.  Of the four of them, Andrew seems most on board with the way I feel.  “I love the job,” he said, “but sometimes you just get antsy.  The job’s so good, but you want to go other places.”  It makes sense he’d feel this way I suppose.  Andrew’s got the art thing going on, he paints and draws, and, in my experience, artist types are usually the type of people who are frustrated with life.  Maybe the inspiration for art stems from some sort of deep dissatisfaction with corporeal reality and reflects a desire to change it.

Bean Plant to Fakie at KAYO’s T.F. Photo by Tadashi

Eric Wall is only twenty, but he’s already been working for Tum Yeto for three years.  For a twenty year old he’s got a pretty good thing going.  He gets free shit, works in the industry and lives in Josh Beagle’s apartment complex.  At twenty I was still crying over the latest girl that broke my heart.  For his sake, I hope he’s not as lame as I was.  It’s pretty rough.

Eric Wall at the Tum Yeto Warehouse.

So, where am I going with this?  What’s the fucking point already?  Well, I suppose it’s just that we all are looking for a life with some honor in it.  Luckily, honor is such a subjective thing that it can be anywhere.  You can find it throwing boxes in a warehouse; you can find it cleaning pools while you write for a magazine at night.  Shit, you can even find it pushing a rock.  I guess what I’m trying to say is this: We’re all looking for meaning in a world that is inherently meaningless.  But, if you recognize the pointlessness of the search, then you can finally realize that our lives are only what we make them.  Nothing more, nothing less.  And, if you can see the freedom that such a belief provides, that rejection of purpose is your first step out of bondage.

Eric Wall Kickflip. Photo: Word

I wonder, did Sisyphus ever try to leave?  To just walk away and leave the rock at the bottom of the hill, never to move again?  Maybe he lacked the imagination.  But we don’t have to.  Not anymore.

* For those of you who don’t know who Camus (pronounced Kay- moo) is: he wrote The Stranger, the first book with a nihilist main character, and The Cure wrote a song about it.


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