I Kind Of Get a Kick Out of Buying My Gel Packs

Earlier this year, in preparation for the hot season, I combed the internet for sources of gel packs to put in my shipped packages. It was a little tricky because a lot of companies make them around the country, but they’re expensive to ship b/c they’re so heavy. I was thrilled when I found a company in LA that sold them at a very reasonable rate, and even more thrilled when I called and asked them if I could pick up a case to buy instead of having it shipped, and they said yes.

So, periodically, I drive over to an industrial part of southeastern LA full of factories and warehouses, and pull into the company’s huge, partially concealed parking lot. The parking lot has spaces that go perpendicular to the buildings flanking it, and a lot of empty space in the middle, presumably for large shipping trucks to maneuver around. It’s like a wide-open asphalt prairie for my silver VW New Beetle. I park and walk across the expanse and up the loading dock ramp to the inside of the facility. The office is in the foreground. All around are pallets and tall piles of huge bundles of packaging goods. There are some men with braces around their torsoes walking around or driving vehicles to move the pallets.

So far, because I wasn’t sure of my shipping volume this summer, I’ve bought one case at a time. I usually get a case of 72 8-oz gel packs (which would mean shipping at least a 36 pound box). For me, this is a good number of gel packs; for them, of course, it’s practically nothing. BUT they’re always so nice and helpful to this small-time chocolatier. They answered a ton of questions my first time and gave me samples, and ever since, always ask how business is going and treat me like a normal customer, no matter how eccentric and bemused. I get a charged a little less each time, or might be upgraded to a slightly larger size. I pay in cash. If I don’t have the exact amount, they’ll likely round down the total to what I have, because they don’t have change — there is no register.

And no matter how much I insist that I can carry the case to my car, one of the men always transports it for me, either carrying it on his shoulder or wheeling it on a dolly, chatting or smiling along the way. This case of gel packs — roughly the size of a gym bag — is then gently placed into the trunk of my car, which, conveniently enough, was practically designed to have just enough room for a gym bag.

I thank them, and ride off, retracing my route to the 10 Freeway or stopping for a pupusa.

3 Responses to “I Kind Of Get a Kick Out of Buying My Gel Packs”

  1. sweet fine day Says:

    This is a charming story. Thanks for sharing. Have been meaning to email you…and hope that you are doing well!

  2. Joni Says:

    probably the best way to thank them is to give them some chocolate bars and marshmallows to go around

  3. Nina Says:


    And what a nice idea!

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