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Monday, May 18, 2009

HOM: Back On Deck

I got a new helper on the deck, an ex-Marine named Randy Colby. In the "It's a small, small world" category, he was the younger brother of Neil Colby, my old friend from NNC, and his father had been the pastor at our church here for a while. Randy was a likable guy, but I had a few misgivings about him on deck. He just didn't seem to have the usual gung-ho, on-the-ball, hardcore personality most Marines I knew exhibited He'd been pulling on the green chain and I guess he was good at it, but he just didn't seem to be as alert as the deck job required. He seemed to treat the deck like a vacation from the chain, and had a couple of pretty close calls when I worked with him. The one that really sticks in my memory was him being towards the front of the deck when Randy dumped a big load of logs up to be cut up for the four foot lathe. One of the logs flipped up in the air and came down right next to Randy, who had his back turned, like it was trying to play Whack-A-Mole on him but missed. He didn't even see it till after it hit. The lathe operators didn't care for him either, either because he didn't pay enough attention to what was going on or because he didn't put as much effort into clearing problems as they thought he should. I'd always made a point of doing whatever need to be done regardless of wear and tear on myself, even if it meant cross-legged and teary-eyed. Randy didn't. There were times when they got pretty peeved at me when I was reading and didn't realize a lathe had plugged up, but overall we coexisted pretty well. (When reading, I almost always kept one eye on the deck, but once in a while a long spell of no problems would lull me into carelessness. Mel would send a chunk of wood flying out of the lathe close enough to get my attention when he needed it.) Randy ended up being my replacement on deck after I quit. He told me that his first night alone he put his lunchbox right where I'd always put mine, with a book sticking out of it just like I always had. DJ walked up on deck, confiscated the book, chewed Randy out and told him that if he got caught with a book up there again he was fired. Randy was peeved & puzzled, since he knew Don had always ignored my book habit. I guess I'd earned the privilege and Randy hadn't. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)

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