a job well and honorably done.
He works down there for one of the titans, can’t remember which one. Been at the company twenty-five, thirty years, something like that. I watched my Dad in his shop, the way he worked with his hands, the honor in it, and I knew I was destined follow him. It’s what I wanted to do. I thought for a while about being a lawyer, trying for college, but that’s not my smarts and that’s okay. He took me under his wing in high school. I’d work at the shop for a few hours after school every day, half day on Saturdays. I started off with the easy stuff, sweeping the floor, cleaning the chips out the machines. He taught me how to measure, which instrument you’d use for what. I was terrified the first time I stood at the controls, preparing my first cut. So proud, though, when I took it out, the finished product – gleaming steel, chemicals dripping off of it, onto my fingers, and into my sleeves.
The shop was closed a year by the time I graduated. With what I had under my belt, I followed him to the slough. Was good work, good starting wage, and I knew that I’d learn. It was good for him, too, in a way. He never got over having to sell the shop, those machines he worked so hard for, but he got a bit of respect down there, you know? He’d been in it so long, through so much, so many changes, the guys really listened to him. He was making good, steady money, too. He really took care of his workers, too. Always would cape for them when it was needed. He was fair to the core, you know. Had that blue-collar work… nah, you can’t even call it a work ethic. It was, it IS his ethic.
‘Bout ten years ago, something like that, that’s when things began going sour. Bosses cut his hours a bit, not by much, at first. Fewer responsibilities, things like that. Started pushing him to use these low quality suppliers, cutting his guys’ hours. There was talk of starting a union, getting one of the locals in. It was too late by then, though. Company put a quash on that, cut a bunch of jobs and outsourced ‘em. Guys like my Dad, they always get fucked over, the worker, the little guy, however you wanna put it. They make the fat cats’ money, make those companies into something good, a place to be proud of. And then? Greed trumps all and they’re left by the side of the outsourced, digital highway, supervising five young guys in the shipping department. That’s what they leave you with. That’s your reward for a job well and honorably done.
It’s not supposed to be like this, man.