Bringing Me into the Fold

The one thing that you will not find in my underwear drawer is organization. There are no neat stacks; no neatly regimented ranks and files of folded tidy whities, ready to serve the underlying cause. What you will find is row after row of briefs, rolled tightly, and stacked like cordwood, cushioning the top drawer of my dresser.

The idea for rolling underwear came from my Mother. She once packed fourteen days worth of clothing for a family of four into a single beer case for our camping trip. She laid each garment out, one by one on the bed, folded them once, then rolled the entire wardrobe into individual tight coils, pressing the air out as she went along.

She surmised that, when packing traditionally, much of the space is used up by air, thus limiting the amount of available space for other items. By applying pressure, she was able to squeeze out much more than anyone ever thought. The IRS adopted her thinking some time ago.

Personally, I don’t care whether my underwear drawer has too much air in it or not. Nevertheless, I’ve used her roll-up method of storage for years. That’s because I can’t fold.

For some reason, when Mother Nature was restocking my gene pool, she failed to give me the folding gene.

It’s true. Even as a child, I couldn’t fold things. I hated making paper airplanes, because while my friends’ airplanes were streamlined, and soared gracefully on the gentle breeze, my paper airplanes tumbled through the air like someone left the cargo bay door open.

I can’t fold anything. My towels are all rolled neatly in the linen closet. Cloth napkins are rolled tightly in the cherry chest. Extra blankets are rolled up in the laundry room. I rolled up my tuxedo for the plane ride to my brother’s wedding, last fall in Los Angeles.

I can’t fold in egg whites, and I’ve lost a fortune playing poker, because when I have a bad hand, I can’t fold. I even have trouble folding my arms.

At Christmas time, I never purchase presents that don’t come in a square box, because gift wrapping is essentially folding with something in the way.

This week, my friend Brian, received a phone call from a professional recruiter, requesting that he apply for a Quality Engineer job at ILC Aerospace in Dover, Delaware. The job was in their space suit division. Personally, I can’t see Brian being responsible for the safety of our astronauts in space, but honestly, he did a great job in his last position assuring the public’s safety from the packaging that the COVID-19 vaccines use.

To date, there have been no COVID-19 related paper cut deaths.

Brian wasn’t going to take the the job at ILC, until he learned that they also make blimps. It seems that the giant airships that flourished in the 1930’s are making a comeback. They are slow, but they can carry huge payloads at low fuel costs.

The recruiter told Brian that ILC is shipping everything from high altitude weather balloons to luxury airliners. Once a month, every employee at the Dover facility is required to assemble in the giant hangar to fold a blimp for shipping.

Fold the blimp?

Logic would tell me that to ship a blimp, all you have to do is fill it with helium and fly it to the customer. But no! These things are going out UPS!

My thoughts immediately returned to my Mother. How long would it take to squeeze the air out of a blimp? How big is that beer case?

Regardless, I thought this might just be the job for me. Folding a few blimps would surely give me the skills to fold anything. Well, maybe not anything.

Even God can’t fold a fitted sheet.

– John O. Marlowe is an award-winning columnist for Sagamore News Media.