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Friday, April 10, 2009

HOM: Boss Times II

DJ was a great foreman, but did have a temper. I was banding up a load when I looked up and saw him standing on deck, fists on hip, glaring at me. I said, "Don, I didn't do it!" He said "I know, but you were supposed to!" and walked off. I still have no clue? The doors from the vat area to the outside were open and I walked over for a bit of fresh air. There was a tattered tin shed for the forklifts there, and through a hole where the siding was lifted a little I saw a pair of boots and a growing puddle. I picked up a rock and lofted it at the tin wall. When it hit, the boots went airborn and the stream missed the puddle. I boogied -- I hadn't recognized the boots, but I sure knew the foreman's voice when he was cussing . . . Nerves got tweaked a bit when there was a breakdown -- production was important. #2 lathe broke down and DJ, Larry and the millwright were working on it. This time there were three of us on deck and goofing off. We were playing with a big block of wood, showing off by tossing it and pressing it up over our heads. As luck would have it, the big kid who'd thrown the temper tantrum with his pic was hoisting it up when DJ turned around and saw him. The poor kid got reamed out for playing instead of working. The other kid & I got quite industrious before DJ got after us too. The big kid really did feel like life was unfair, and I guess for him it was. The big kid challenged another guy to a fight at Charlie's Beer Depot after work. He went out the door first, and when he turned around the kid he'd challenged kicked him in the groin. End of fight. Nope, life isn't fair. There was a little door in those big doors vat doors for foot traffic when the big ones were closed. DJ had a close call there. He stepped in just as Orville was making a sweeping turn into the end vat. Orville hit the brakes and the load of logs he was carrying hit the door where DJ had been a second earlier. DJ had good reflexes . . . DJ was one of those guys that were a lot stronger than they looked. He was using a new peavey and trying to move a log that was stuck in the lathe, grabbed the peavey handle in one hand, a steel beam in the other, and heaved, The peavey handle broke. He and the DSF got into a, umm, "discussion", up in their office. No one could hear them, but the pantomine through the window showed the DSF shaking his finger in DJ's face, DJ shaking his fist in the DSF's face, and the DSF leaving fairly quickly. That office was above the break room and gave a good view over most of the green end of the mill. The first aid locker was up there, and one hot summer night I got a heat rash in one armpit. I went up, grabbed a can of first-aid spray, and soaked both underarms with it. It really helped, but when I found out I'd been watched by half the crew and the teasing started I regretted it. It was pitiful. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)