Search Me!

Think about it...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

HOM: Laird

Laird was one of the few that stuck around on the deck for a while. One of those that passed through the deck before he got there was a big dark-haired kid who hated the deck. I remember one night he got so frustrated with the job that he threw his pic down on the deck and jumped up and down on it, yelling about how unfair the job was and how the lathe operators picked on him. I knew how he felt! I guess what he said was true, though. They didn't like him much and didn't cooperate with him. One night when he was on deck with me the number one lathe was plugged almost continuously for the first four hours. At lunch, DJ needed the kid back on the green chain so I told the #1 operator he could stop plugging the lathe, the kid was gone and I was working alone. He denied plugging the lathe deliberately, but for the rest of the shift it never plugged once. Anyway, I'd known Laird a little in high school since he rode the same bus I did. I knew he was a Navy vet and recently divorced and his dad had been the sheriff at one time. Laird was a good guy and a good worker, with one failing. He had a hair-trigger temper. Since I didn't like working with someone who got mad and anger could pretty easily lead to carelessness and injuries, I decided to help him out a bit. Since he seemed to enjoy getting mad, I decided to give him a lot of pleasure. Poor Laird. I picked on him a lot. He was running the crane (hoist) on #1, since the logs there were too big for the automated charging system, while I ran the deck. Since #2 lathe was also running big logs that were a little rotten I was pretty busy. I looked up, saw Laird standing idle -- waiting to crane a log into the lathe. I caught his eye and made a skate-tightening gesture at my foot. I was accusing him of skating and he took it seriously. A few seconds later he was in my face telling me to go run the crane and he'd run the deck. I laughed at him. About that time, he realized I was working at getting a reaction out of him and started throttling his temper down a bit. He & I got in the habit of stopping for coffee at Finnegan's after work. I teased him there because he wouldn't take his cap off because he was prematurely bald. One night I worked on him for a long time and finally convinced him he looked okay with with his cap off, so he removed it. I waited thirty seconds, covered my face, and asked him to put it back on because the reflection hurt my eyes. For some reason he tipped me headfirst into a snowbank when we left . . . The waitresses there used to remark that they liked the way he smelled, and he always turned red. We both smelled like sweaty pine trees (NOT White or Sub-Alpine Fir!) when we got off work, so I wasn't sure just what the girls found so attractive. The worst I EVER got him, though, was the shift when he asked me to run the deck alone while he ran over to the toilet, which was at the opposite end of the mill. I said sure, but just then #1 lathe plugged up. I asked him if he'd unplug it first, and he said okay. Just as he finished that, #2 plugged up. I asked him if he'd help unplug it, he said okay again. Then #1 core bin filled, and when I asked him to, he banded it up. #2 bin filled at the same time. He banded it. Then I asked him if he'd put in new bands. While we was doing cutting the new bands, I trotted past him and said "Watch the deck for a minute, Laird, I gotta go to the can." He turned so red, I thought he was having a stroke. Yes, I was joking . . . I made a left turn, took the stairs by #2 infeed and went back on the deck. Laughing. Laird, by the way, was the one that put the pigeon in the millwright's lunch box. Life was rarely boring on that swing shift. Laird left the deck to become a millwright himself. The pranks didn't end though: he was deathly afraid of snakes, so one of the other guys hung one on a string so when Laird opened his locker it swung out & hit him in the face. I guess he collapsed. Nope -- tweren't me! Later on laird left the mill and became a Wyoming cowboy. More on that later. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)