Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Another Day at the Office, Part 2

Day three at the plant and despite my protests, I have enjoyed my visit.  

At least the visit outside of the conference room and in the actual plant.

This location has several different manufacturing shops within it and slipping from one to the next brings back various and sundry ghosts from the past.

For my cousins in Arkansas owned a camper shell factory.

With the smell of the propane burning off the fork lift, I conjured up my favorite cousin, Bug.  He, Bubby and I would would cruise around the round square of a summer evening and search for the infamous ghost light that would appear when you drove past the perfect spot.

The sounds of chain saws, belt sanders and the Psst Chunk, Psst Chunk, Psst Chunk of a nail gun remind me of weaving in and out of production looking for all of my kin.  It was my job to call them all in to a special supper that cousin Kitty had made.  Everyone would knock off work immediately and we'd all climb the hill to the house to eat.  

The first time I ever had a deer steak was on Kitty's table. 

I loved it.  

Prissy, as I recall, had a hard time swallowing.  You know.  Bambi and all that.

There is an ancient break room here complete with Naugahyde booths and Formica tables.  The pop machine is modern, but when I selected a Diet Pepsi, a Diet Caffeine Free Coke fell into the shoot.

I loved that!

The old camper plant had a pop machine, but it was a side loader and the glass bottles that it held was whatever type that was available when the supplier came round.  And the label never matched what you actually received.  We'd get the keys to the machine and drink as much free pop as we wanted.

Prissy didn't approve.

This week the men on the line touched me the most, because I am indeed surrounded by men.

In an office environment you don't get the raucous laughter, the loud voices and colorful language.  You don't get calloused, stained hands or the faint scent of sweat mingled with sawdust.  

I found myself mentally adding missing scents: a whiff of beer and cigarette smoke.  If I missed the scent, I'm sure they missed being able to partake of the real thing.  

Different times.

I missed most keenly the sight of a cigarette dangling from their mouths.  I overheard a lot of forbidden conversation whilst watching a smoke bob up and down in a mouth.

Sweat, sawdust, beer, and cigarette smoke.  

Throw in an occasional whiff of Wrigley's Double Mint gum and you get a week or so out of every year in my adolescence.

You get a whiff of my much missed, dear departed, complicated step-daddy.

In the early 80's.

In rural Arkansas.

In a camper factory.

Shake it off, Sugar.  Back to work.

...let the whining continue!

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