a masterful operator at work brought an admixture of jealousy and
admiration. It was a bit like seeing some phenomenal guitarist
trilling impossibly intricate melodic arpeggios in a lightning fast
manner, then hearing that the player had been at it since he was four
years old.So what comes to mind when seeing such expertise laid
out is “hey, will a lower middle-class pink-nosed freckle-faced
average boy like me ever get a chance, a shot at the title?” 'Nuff
said.After that memorable unloading operation, Davey and
cohorts had lots to babble about once the parts had been stowed.
few details worth mentioning – many of which were left out of
former long-winded posts – revolve around Davey's developing
companionship with other employees fortunate [or perhaps unfortunate]
enough to be clanging about in rail car repair.The most significant
was a truck shop welder named Dean. It seemed a match made in welder
heaven.After all, Dean and Davey shared an interest in carbonated
alcoholic adult beverages, cigarettes – maybe even the same brand,
things mechanical, and were daily developing their respective skills
with 7018 rods; Dean with a particular penchant for 3/16th 7018s,
while Davey got along fine with 1/8th”.
course 'twixt three sixteenthsand one eighth lay a mere pittance
of girth;'twas the thickness of materialto be kind of
serialwhich dictated rod, giving it nodthat prevailed, for
what it was worth.Now as to thickness of skulls, Davey and
Dean seemed to be fairly immune to teasing from coworkers, or at
least in Davey's case, verbal armor toughening was in the
offing.Derogatory nicknames – ever the propriety blue collar
males – were hurled in every direction they could find purchase,
and Dean's moniker – chosen by shop pecking order decree – was
“Critter”.It fit him perfectly!
who wore hair that long usually tended to tend it with appropriate
maintenance.Not Dean.His was a mangy mop of frizzy
tan-to-sandy-brown locks usually tied in some semblance of a
ponytail.At first blush, one who saw Dean would be either afraid
of him or just plain suspicious; he looked so bedraggled as to even
evoke pity or some spare change.In a very real sense, he was a
Greenwich Village or Haight-Ashbury '60's throwback .In
addition to his hippy-ish appearance, he also looked aged well beyond
his years, with deep lines etching
his bone-dry facial skin.
and Dean partied frequently at Dean's well-decorated apartment, and
by well-decorated is meant ash trays, bottles and all manner of
detritus littering every horizontal surface. The quintessential
bachelor pad!Oh, the two suds-soppin' welders may have pined
for cavorting with the opposite sex, but alas, the had none; they
were both such damn wrecks!Now it goes without saying that
these were the best of times to be had by two suds-guzzlin' welders,
regardless. Never mind the lack of female company; they had bottles
to make love with, exchanging stories, frittering away time as if
litter-ally, no tomorrow existed.
and Dean would while away many an hour in such party mode, rarely
stopping to thinkof how many brain cells would be laid waste;for as
long as they'd beerand comported good cheerall efforts were
thus in good taste!Harkening back now, nearly forty years
hence, 'twas as if both of them had mysteriously tapped into
premonitory glimpses of Dean's early death due to a work accident
[albeit in a totally unrelated profession] 11 years later in March of
2000.So grief's ignominious Band-Aids®
were being applied NOW, however inadvertently, at Dean's sumptuously
appointed bachelor-friendly abode.
today was the daythat would forever live in INFAMY! Would it ever
be forgiven?With the attack on Pearl Harborso bawdy,
horrendous,the news spat with ardorin BOLD print so
endless'twould be many battles thus driven.Yes, this day
was ironic, as Berardo the iconicwas situated a few skips – or
about twenty steps, depending on how long one's stride was – from
Dean's usual assigned spot amongst the truck assemblies and within
eyeshot of the wheel lathe setup.Berardo was NOT overtly
bitter at his loss of limb during that war, but he burned within.
that halcyon era,it should have been clear, uh,that these
bachelors two did enthrall;neither Davey nor Deandid have
partners so leanas they made love with their ALCOHOL.Funny,
Davey doesn't remember what kind of shit-can Dean drove, but it got
them out of the shop and 'oer to the suds – a short hop.Back at
work, Dean had the unfettered luxuryof being on a rather long leash,or so it seemed most of the time.His was rather important
work-money-lust,and his ass they'd not bustas he slithered in
grit, dust and grime.
commemorating Dean's subsequent passing,Davey
pauses with belches and gassing:“Dean, now serene, you sure
made the scene;bless this brew to our useand whatever the
juiceand let's hope you are someplace now clean.”It is
at this juncture whilst spinning memoirs of bucolic alcoholic
merrymaking that Davey ponders the philosophical implications of what
goes through wounded war veterans' minds when they see such wasted
manpower back home.It was just such a scene that Berardo's
overshadowing presence induced; however, his was not the
resentment-laden, spiteful attitude so well portrayed by that
horrific Vietnam era bumper sticker.
friends, the holier-than-thou attitude toward one's countrymen who
either did not or could not participate in the nation's battles was
not Berardo's way.Upon his van, you would never see that grotty
bumper sticker which read:TO THOSE WHO FOUGHT FOR IT, FREEDOM HAS
A FLAVOR THE PROTECTED WILL NEVER KNOW.So Berardo put his
ass in the sling, leaving 'protected' status, and attending to,
whether by recruitment, draft, or volunteering, the status of
'soldier', and was damn well proud of it.Now, back at the ranch,
shop, HOME sweet HOME, Berardo had no part of flag waving jingoism.
a way, Dean was lucky to be under the same roof as Berardo, although
the latter did not altogether take too kindly to longhairs. It
seemed, however, that during the course of the daily grit pit grind,
Dean had won at least a dithering nod from the master.As to
the Dean mane, you can bet it never got any shorter, and some
well-spun yarns came along with it, such as the time he was drilling
a large hole in the back of a hopper car and got his hair wrapped on
the shank. Damn near snapped his neck.
course they were snide,but Boot-Nut had no choice;just to
take it in strideand quell his faint voice.Davey worked
with Boot-Nutnot with a sense of dreadthings went well
butthen dropped steps on his head!Yes, it came upon a day
shift clearnext to a car so flatthat the ladder hit
Boot-Nut's head, we feargood thing he had a hard hat!Davey
had done the unthinkable: he saw the ladder starting to slip and fall
directly in Boot-Nut's general direction, and had yelled “BOOT-NUT!”
in hopes he would GTF outta DODGE.
it was not to be.And oh, so very unfortunately,down came the
ladderupon Boot-Nut's hat.Nothing would mattershortly
after that.But here's the good partwith no ifs ands or
buts:good thing from the startthat it had missed his
NUTS!But jocular testicular near-misses aside, and with a
temporarily relinquishment of how the chap came by his nickname, the
immediate aftermath was traumatic for Davey as well. He had watched
in horror as Boot-Nut failed totally to respond in a timely fashion
to Davey's shouted warnings and was summarily clocked about the
Boot-Nut's head bobbed like a
ping-pong ball when the ladder made forceful contact with his hard hat, his
body following suit, dancing in a gawd-awful curtsy this way and that. This
scene is permanently seared into Daveys’ memory like his first taste of fire or
down-home country ass whuppin’.
Getting back to the immediate aftermath of Boot Nut's head-clockin', Davey
fizzed with a most unpleasant adrenaline rush, fearing an angry Boot Nut would
come up a-swingin'. After all, Davey had never seen the Nutster REALLY pissed;
mostly he would just get a little riled at the razzing he regular received.
Yes, the sad reality, to reiterate,
was the fact that Boot Nut caught a hell of a lot of sh** just for the sin of
being a little different than the rest.
Regardless, and though knowing this, Davey found himself babbling profuse
apologies in Boot Nut's general direction, hoping to assuage any angst that
would be directed into potential violent acts against Davey's person.
Davey had fear of pain as well as losing face!
In such perilous moments, the aforementioned “fight or flight” response is firmly
invoked, which, to the uninitiated, is explained thoroughly in this Wikipedia
entry as follows:
the previous post, Wikipedia resources contain these scintillating tidbits:
“The fight-or-flight response (also called the fight, flight, freeze, or fawn response [in PTSD], hyperarousal, or the acute stress response) is a
physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack,
or threat to survival. “
Going further, delving into the actual scientific metabolic changes that occur
in the threatened organism undergoing ongoing stresses, Wiki continues: “The
animal (in this case, dithering Davey) reacts to threats with a general
discharge of the sympathetic (in Davey's case, PATHETIC) nervous system,
priming the animal for fighting or fleeing.”
As the Wiki entry rambles on further
in demonstrably thick, barely penetrable “scientificese”,
“More specifically, the adrenal medulla produces a hormonal cascade that
results in the secretioon of catecholamines, especially norepinephrine and
WHEW! Davey must therefore have been swimming in a chemical soup of his own
Finally, after many expletives were hurled directly at quivering, tentative
Davey, Boot Nut managed to cool his jets.
So after this embarrassing incident that seemed to take forever to resolve,
Davey resolved not only to be extremely careful, but also to kiss Boot Nut's
butt for at least a few days.
The boxcar that required Boot Nut's
immediate attention and hopefully major doses of TLC required some
not-so-gentle persuasion in the form of hydraulics and oxy-acetylene-provided
heat in order to straighten a door frame.
The former – as stated, hydraulic – assistance came in the form of a unique
contraption containing a selection of frames and jigs which could be attached
in any number of configurations to a powerful electro-hydraulic press.
Manufactured by Enerpac Corporation, this little powerhouse was an incredibly
versatile and muscular tool. Indeed, in the words of one of Daveys latter-day
bosses, “a sharp tool is a pleasure to use.”
Additionally, the changing of the
to pardon the canard
which shouldn’t be too hard
as per this Davey bard:
The frequently irritating switch
of course some men did bitch
but it meant you could scratch your itch
and avoid any white hat pitch.
It also meant newbies could, during their grueling 45-day probationary period,
dabble with the rabble and learn by osmosis the plethora of skills they would
need to become seasoned mechanics and welders.
When and how to stand around, whilst LOOKING productive, was to be honed to a
fine art; avoiding scrutiny, AND keeping your head down.
People skills – and perhaps more
significantly, Bear-baiting techniques – could also be obtained through contact
with this truculent, highly diverse cross-section of humanity.
But remember heist our fave-your was shorn on pissed-miss day.
Davey did manage one Christmas party at the company, which was held in the
staid dining hall. ‘Big Daddy’ – that guy with the outrageously long cock which
he delighted in showing off to any standers-by at the urinals – harangued a
gaggle of gigglers. The guy had such an incredible sense of humor; it seemed
all he needed to do was open his mouth and dudes bagged up laughin’.
In retrospect, which, as the ever
indefatigable ‘they’ say, is always 20-20, Davey should have chatted with that
white hat. It could have been a favorable career move.
He much later realized that it is in these informal settings where flesh is
pressed and lips chatter in mechanical patter, with or without thought,
frequently on autopilot, that connections are made, friendships forged, and
Say, for the sake of conjecture, that the aforementioned bespectacled white hat
had some side projects or weekend warrior work at his home or hobby business.
It would have been a shingle opportunity for Davey.
this fellow – perhaps not entirely shysterbut nonetheless a
slick-assed-meister,wearing those sort of slimy looksthat was a
trademark of master crooksinto Davey he placed some hooksand
damn! He kept two sets of books.This 2-book record keeping
protocol was such an obvious tax dodge as to need no further
expository rantings over its revelation.But that was only the tip
o' the iceberg.For Mr. Slick didn't seem too smart about the
whole thing: he entered his tenants' cash payments under 'Astretnob',
or DUH – his name spelled backwards.What auditor would stumble
over THAT one?
as to that aforementioned so-called 'flat', yes, indeed, it was FLAT
as a friggin' pancake, depending on which surfaces you looked at.The
staid outer facade went straight up with no embellishments or nod to
any particular architectural period, say, the 'Federalist' or
'Victorian' or whatever. No, this was a utilitarian structure by
all means, and Davey wondered what industry made use of it.Sturdily
assembled around the turn of the century like so many others of its
ilk, then tacked on to the back and side of abutting structures, this
otherwise nondescript building contained a curious hollow interior.