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Friday, April 3, 2009

HOM: THE Deck Hand

I became THE Deck Hand for the next few years! Layne switched to driving a truck hauling bark away from the mill & Wayne quit, going on to be a drill master at the Goat Creek Boot Camp when it was in operation. All of a sudden I was the senior guy on the deck. I was a miserable failure on the green chain, but that deck job fitted me like a glove. I was good at it. A lot of other guys came & went up there on the deck, but the lazy ones hated it when the going got tough and the energetic ones got bored when it was slow. I guess I was weird -- I liked the changes of pace. There was a fair amount of hazard involved in deck work -- it seemed like most of the accidents in our end of the mill happened up there. Heavy logs, running machinery and slippery footing all contributed to the statistics. Some guys were pretty nervous and some were pretty careless and that contributed to the turnover. I had one time-loss accident. Randy dumped a bunch of logs on deck for us to cut up for the four foot lathe and one of them spun and ended up wedged at right angles to the rest. The other deck hand hooked his pick into the butt end and I walked up to the top end so I could hook into it and we could lift it up and turn it. Just as I swung the pic to sink it into the log, the other guy jerked the log backwards. I got about an inch and a half of steel right into the side of my foot when my pic swished past the end of the log and hit my shoe. That happened at the beginning of the shift & I toughed it out till supper time at 2100 but finally called it quits and went home. I spent the next few days sitting in my chair with my leg up & a drain in my foot. And reading. A second oopsy happened when I was braced on top of the #1 infeed trying to straighten out a mislaid log. I had my feet braced and was hauling back for all I worth when my pic ripped out of the log. I went over the side backwards and landed on my back crosswise of an electric motor about five feet down. Being dumb, I waited three days to report the accident, but when the pain didn't go away I finally reported it to DJ. He already knew about it . . . I suspect that this why I have back problems now. Nope, I didn't go to a doctor or miss any work. Don's initials were DJ, and he was usually referred to as either "Jones" or "DJ". Well, unless he was being referred to in a sentence with a lot of four letter and hyphenated words, but that was pretty rare. He was a great boss, the best guy I ever worked for. DJ cut me a lot of slack and I did my best to not let him down. Reading on the job was a firing offense, but if he came on deck while I was booking out, he'd always manage to ignore the book. On the other hand, I was never anything but willing when he asked me to do something above & beyond the regular call of duty. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)