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Thursday, March 26, 2009

HOM: Trying Plying A Trade

I showed up at C&C Plywood bright & early the first morning, sporting an old pair of boots and a new pair of leather gloves and a short sleeved shirt, just like at GC, but this time the clothes were appropriate. (I guess I forgot to mention that working concrete required a special pair of rubber gloves. GC stocked them for employees & a pair lasted a few weeks, where even heavy leather gloves wore out in hours, and a long-sleeved shirt was de rigeur.) Anyway, the dayshift foreman put me on the green chain. "Green chain", to those in the know, invokes visions of extreme manual labor, and in a lumber mill where you are manhandling heavy green 2" or 4" thick planks that holds true. In a plywood plant, the wood you are handling only weighs ounces but the action is nonstop. Workers are lined up alongside an 8' wide conveyor belt. Behind each worker are a couple of platform carts. The conveyor belt carries an endless row of 8' long strips of wood from 1/16" to 1/4" thick and up to 4' wide. Each worker grabs strips and flips them onto the appropriate cart, sorting as they go. The job requires fast & accurate judgment and fast & accurate reflexes. In other words, putting me in with an experienced group like this was like sticking a mule into a chorus line. It didn't work out. I did give it my best shot, but it seemed like I could be accurate or fast, but not both. Add in the ?lady? across from me who seemed to delight in snatching every strip before I could & I got pretty frustrated. Frustrated to the point of jerking the strips out of her hands if she latched onto them before I could, actually. Bad Jim, Bad! I was on the green chain for three days. Looooooong days, and probably equally long for the poor folks working with me! At quitting time, and it was a Friday night, I was told to report to work at 5:00 PM (1700) Monday. Day shift gave up on me and was dumping me to swing shift. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)