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Saturday, April 4, 2009

HOM: Interplay

There were a few more variables at work than logs and lathes. The biggest one was people. The folks you worked with had a profound influence on how easy or hard your job was. This was especially true of the lathe operators. When the #1 lathe operator was feeling feisty or was peeved at the deck hands, he could make life a lot harder. As I mentioned, when he finished turning down a log and dropped the core, which resembled an eight foot fence post, into the lathe, it landed on a trapdoor. Normally he'd trip the trapdoor as he fed a new log into the lathe and it would fall down into a slanting steel trough with a heavy steel-bar conveyor belt at the bottom and be carried up and onto the deck. Once in a while the operator would time things so that when he had an infeed full of small fast-running logs he'd let a pile of core build up and then drop them all into the trough at once. This almost always resulted in a jam that required a deck hand to climb down under the lathe and untangle, and while he was doing that the operator would proceed to run core as fast as he could to make the jam worse. Trying to dodge falling core and unplug the conveyor at the same time got quite interesting but shutting down the lathe wasn't an option. There seemed to be no way to get back at him. I did make one threat that he listened to, though. I threatened to spray a bunch of perfume into the fan he stood under, and do so right at quitting time so he'd could go home and explain the sweetness to his wife. Actually, it might not have been an effective threat -- not too long after that he went home early and caught her in bed with his neighbor. I guess orneriness is its own reward. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)