Thursday, January 12, 2017

Working on a conveyor

The past is a funny thing:  Suddenly a long-buried memory will come back to me at the most inconvenient time, a memory that brings resentment or sorrow.  Here's what interrupted my meditation this morning.

In 1977 my children were eight and ten years old, and I decided I'd do well to get a job, after staying home with my kids for so long.  We lived on the same property as now, so we were pretty much "in the boonies".  Cliff said, "You aren't going to hold down a job.  (I think he was afraid to get his hopes up)  It's been so long since you held down a job, and you can't even drive.  How would you even get to work?"

At that time there were several factories in Lexington, eight miles away.  I called a neighbor, Rosie, and asked her about those places and whether she knew anybody working at any of them that wouldn't mind having a paying rider.  Indeed, she did!  That's how I met my friend Carol, as loyal a friend as I've ever had.  She'd been left a widow with four kids, and any extra money would be a blessing to her.  She was always on time and never missed work.  I had a job at Whitaker Cable!

My job classification was "forming operator".  A conveyor went round and round:  Each person had a wire or two to put in place, and toward the end, people taped the wires in such a way that the cable was all there, ready to become a vital part of a shiny new car.  

If you've ever worked at a conveyor, you know that it takes teamwork:  If you get behind, it puts everybody past you behind, and those people aren't usually too happy with that situation.  

It was my first day; I hadn't held down a job in over ten years:  I started out behind and stayed behind.  I fought back tears.  The only thing that kept me there was Cliff's statement, "You aren't going to keep a job" replaying in my head.

The people on my left were unaffected by my slowness, but I was holding up the line for the people on my right.  Fortunately, the two ladies on my right had tasted of the milk of human kindness and began helping lay my wires, as well as doing their own part of the work.  I can see them in my mind's eye now, although I only recall the name of one of them:  Sue Hufford.  They said not a word, just pitched in and helped me out.  Within a week I was doing it all by myself.  

It wasn't until two or three years later I learned how cruel people can be.  We were all working in one area, close enough to converse, and one woman said, "Remember how we used to try and make people quit on their first day at work?  We'd let them get so far behind they'd just walk out."

A group of them began laughing at how funny that was, the way they sometimes made people quit within their first hour.  Roars of laughter ensued.

I had learned to like some of these ladies who were laughing at the discomfort they had caused others, so I was speechless.  

Thank God for those two ladies He placed to the right of me, because had it not been for them, I would have been one of those who walked out in the first hour of working at Whitaker Cable.  

Thank God for nice people, and may He help me forgive the ladies on the left.  I truly wish this memory had stayed buried, but maybe it will serve as a reminder to me to "be the nice one".  



Sister--Three said...

Why hurt when one can help. The same hand that knocks someone could give a hand up.
Fleta "pulled crops" standing on a wooden coke box and old women helped a scrawny
little girl do her job. Loved your story.


Interesting where the mind takes us. A good story you told. Taking pleasure out of others pain not good at all.

krueth said...

That says a lot for people's character doesn't it? If you can help someone get through those hard times why knock them down flat? Yes, those memories of things just pop up randomly to me also the older I get. Yikes! Have a great weekend. Wendy

Mary Degli Esposti said...

There are quite a few memories I've ruminated on these past 10+ years that I wish I'd not reawakened as well.
Rings a bell, or 2. The mean, resentful proletariat; there's an often image we don't always admit to experiencing. Not PC.

Donna, you sometimes write as if you think of yourself as a person with antisocial & rude tendencies. Having read your blog for years(I still think of you as Mosie), your actions never bear that out. Perhaps you feel awkward at times among others who you believe are OTHERS, but still you appear to be a nice & even generous person who happens to view herself too harshly.