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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

HOM: Boss Times

The day shift foreman was thoroughly disliked on swing shift, but sometimes when DJ was on vacation the DSF stood in for him. He knew he was disliked and I guess he was a little paranoid about it. Kurt, the #2 lathe operator, brought in a new pistol he'd gotten and was outside the mill showing to someone when the DSF walked out. He saw the gun, spun and went back into the mill, left by another door and went home, then called in sick. Guilty conscience, I guess. Larry McIlhargey was the jack of all trades at the mill, so he took over the shift. Larry. He acted as a foreman, ran #4 lathe, ran the other lathes when the regular operators were off, helped the millwrights, drove in the vats, put in a hand wherever he was needed. When he ran the little 4' lathe & I was cutting logs to send back to him, I would sometimes grab a couple of the core he'd already run and send them to him again. I stopped that the day one of the core I'd slipped in came cartwheeling back past my head. I got the message . . . One night he was running the spotter's controls on #2. He left his can of Diet Pepsi sitting unattended while he walked back down the infeed to scale logs so I moved the can onto the top of the post the heavy arms that carried the logs rested on. When he ran the arms back and hit the can, it exploded into brown mist and he levitated about four feet straight up. Paybacks: You know what THEY are! I carried a canteen with water & a little container of instant coffee. When I was tired, along toward the end of the shift, I'd dump the instant in with a swallow or two of water and chug-a-lug it down. In payback for the Pepsi episode, Larry timed it right and dumped a handful of oily sawdust into the canteen shortly before I dumped the coffee in. I swallowed it all -- and choked and puked... And I was sick the next day. A week or so later, Laird dropped a Frito into the canteen when I wasn't looking. I spat it clear across the deck, and HE choked -- laughing! I would sometimes grab a burger and climb up and put it on the steam pipe above the chipper conveyor to stay hot till suppertime. Larry found out that if he smacked a support post with his pic a few times my burger would fall onto the conveyor and then he could watch me hotfoot up the ladder and down the catwalk trying to grab my meal before it dropped into the chipper. Sometimes I won the race, sometimes I missed a meal. Swing shift was a lot more fun than day shift. There was a LOT more horseplay but production didn't suffer & morale was pretty high. Day shift had the older guys (More seniority!) and the owner and managers mostly came in during the normal workday, factors that limited the antics that went on. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)