This story originally aired on June 9, 2018.
When Sound Effect contributor Joel Shupack was just out of high school he was working a boring, tedious warehouse job in Bend, Oregon.
“My job,” recalls Joel, “was to open boxes full of sunglasses, take them all out and put each pair into a separate box. They would be mailed out to all of the dupes who signed up for a sunglasses-of-the-month club.”
It was one of those companies that would mail out leaflets advertising “FREE SUNGLASSES! $40 Value!”. An asterisk would direct you to the fact that you only had to pay shipping and handling, a mere $19.95.
“I was the handling,” says Joel.
One day, while unpacking sunglasses that were shipped from Taiwan, Joel found a poem on the inside of a thin cardboard box. It was written by hand in black pen. This little bit of foreign text broke Joel out of his dull routine and became a sort of guiding light that he’s held onto ever since, even though the poem didn't turn out to be exactly what he thought.