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Hot day, cold mill.

Sepulchritude Forum » The Absinthe Forum Archive thru January 2003 » The Monkey Hole » Hot day, cold mill. « Previous Next »

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Posted on Thursday, August 1, 2002 - 10:00 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I've a good friend who writes for (gulp) money... he says that is the way most writers make their living, stealing from other writers who stole from other writers themselves... and I'm not in it for the money so who cares? I'm in it for the sanity...
Posted on Thursday, August 1, 2002 - 9:27 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Pikkle, these posts of yours have heart. Take care, amigo, that someone doesn't plagiarize them. It'll be a damn shame if folks open the pages of a future VANITY FAIR or NEW YORKER and find what you've done, "written by [some thieving hack named] Studs Polski".
Posted on Thursday, August 1, 2002 - 9:18 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Pikkle -

As I read your posts, I am reminded of Sinclair Lewis...

You rock!
Posted on Thursday, August 1, 2002 - 6:26 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Great. You'r turning this horrible job into art. Thanks.
Posted on Thursday, August 1, 2002 - 2:53 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Bravo Pikkle!
Posted on Wednesday, July 31, 2002 - 11:36 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Or that your third cousin's friend's brother-in-law knew the guy who swept the street in front of the union president's house...
Posted on Wednesday, July 31, 2002 - 11:23 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I thank God, everyday, for my inability
to draw circles within circles.
Posted on Wednesday, July 31, 2002 - 10:49 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

There's a fan, a big one, the kind they call "a man cooler" covered in black grease and it's blowing full blast towards a dark blue booth with dirty windows. Hanging by a coat hanger from the doorway of the booth is a plastic thermometer, the kind you can get at Walmart for three bucks with a picture of a cardinal on the front. The thin red line inside of the glass reads "117," a whole three notches from the end of the tube. Outside, the weather man says, it's 94.
You're covered from head to foot in thick cotton mint green clothes, drenched in your own sweat. The clothes are flame resistant, or so the label on the collar tells you but it doesn't really matter now. You stand in front of the greasy fan trying to get some of the moisture to evaporate but in a hundred percent humidity, it has no where to go. In front of you and the fan, there's a mangled sheet of steel being coaxed along by an overhead crane. It isn't going anywhere either.
The official report will be a lie. "Mill kickout" you'll say, "under investigation." The truth is that your one stand operator overrolled. Rather than staying on his job in the oppressive heat for $14.35 an hour to adjust the work roll level for the next piece coming through, he took his chances and fled to the comfort of the break room and it's air conditioner and it's water cooler. This is where he sits while you try to remove fifty feet of cobbled fuck up jammed between steel rolls and wooden sticker board. And no one lifts a finger to volunteer. Like Gerry says "What's worth more? An extra three dollars a day incentive or being able to sleep for two hours? They don't give a fuck." I probably wouldn't either.
The crane keeps plugging back and forth trying to work the crumpled sheet nestled comfortably in the mill. Too far north and the cables come off the shivs. Then the block drops. Then there's more paper work. In this heat, that's a good thing. Each time the crane pulls a little harder, the cable chokes around the steel a little tighter cutting into it a even deeper. Finally the only piece you have left to work with snaps and everything goes flying. Stand two more feet to the right and you do too.
You've got black up to your elbows because you can't stand having anything on your forearms and roll the sleeves of your work shirt up. You wear dirt sleeves now. You'll wash it off. Then wash it off again. You'll scrub more times than most surgeons. Everytime you do you reveal another spider web of small red cuts and scrapes. You wonder what's alive in all that dirt. Probably nothing at all. The soap stings way more than the grease.
Every five minutes your boss, from the comfort of his air conditioned office calls you on the radio demanding an update. "We're getting there" you lie. Soon the battery will go dead and he'll be forced to come out and see, maybe even sweat a little himself. Bosses hate sweat. They do like the donuts vendors bring them in the morning and the lunches vendors take them to at noon. At night, they like the baseball tickets the vendors give them or cruising on the boats the vendors bought for them. They really like the golf outings the vendors invite them to, especially the ones where stripper bring them beer every hole. They definitely don't like to sweat though.
You grab a pinch bar and jam it under the steel. You jerk it violently up and down until it slips from underneath the sheet and you land flat on your ass, a mere foot from falling into a deep pit filled with oil. Inside the breakroom, your crew laughs. Finally one of the guys comes out to help. He's new and doesn't know any better. At the end of the day, when all the guys are walking out together, he'll be told never to do that again.
A thick cloud of haze hovers over the mill. Through a crack in the cruddy glass a hundred feet above a thin beam of sunlight cuts through the mill fog and illuminates a spot on the floor. It slowly lopes across the mill then fizzles out probably realizing it didn't belong here in the first place.
You send the new guy to find a long pipe and he runs off, like a dog chasing a rabbit in ten foot tall grass off the side of a cliff. You don't see him for another half hour. You find your own pipe, slide it under the sheet and motion for the crane operator to drop the hoist. Pinch the finger and the thumb together and swirl them around. This means "go slow." You almost never need to tell anyone this. You snake the cable under one end of the pipe, over top of the sheet and back under the pipe again then hook it to the hoist. You've just made a clamp. You're the shit and no one's here to notice.
One long horn blast means everyone get their ass back to work. Grudginly they emerge, back into the industrial type sauna. Auschwitze has nothing on this place. The next coil drops onto the cradle rolls with a ground moving thud and the sheet rolls around towards the sticker. A big loop erupts and the sheet shoots forward into the bite of the rolls and rumbles on to the next stand. A symphony of air and electricity cry out as the sheet hits each subsequent stand and within thirty seconds, it's on the reel, seventy-five percent thinner than it started out.
You walk the mill, sending subtle glares towards the operators. Their noses are in pussy books or pressed against roaring fans struggling to churn up the thick atmosphere. They're impatiently awaiting midnight like expecting parents wait for those first contractions. A few more intimidating paces and you head back to the sterile maze of cubicles you call your office.
Your bosses have all gone, off to some pool party or country club event on the island to drink twelve year old scotch and hit on the sixteen year old server girls. The guy in the next office over snores away the shift, his only worry being eighty-six furnaces full of hydrogen gas and steel that may or may not blow everything up for a one square mile radius if he sleeps through the overpressure alarm. A cartoon on his cork board reads "It's nobody's fault. People are stupid!"
Even in the a/c the sweat cascades down your nose and into your mouth. It tastes bitter, like dandruff shampoo and dead horse. You don't even bother washing up. You just write the reports the way the bosses like em, pointing the finger anywhere but up, just like you always do. The smudges all over the papers should be self explanatory but they don't give out promotions for being quick and you know you'll be in the office the next day smiling at every facetious remark. But that's the next day. For now you go home and drink until you pass out, just like you always do.

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