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BY Davey H

02/01 Direct Link

As yet another largely superfluous aside, Davey truthfully and unequivocally asserts hereby that today is actually February 3rd, or ‘third’ in common parlance, so he freely admits, ‘fesses up, comes clean, kicks his own ass, and grovels for pardon from the never diligent admins of this quixotic but scintillating site.

52 word sentences aside, as he was huffing on January 31st, Davey had been tasked with excising a pretzel-twisted vertical support on a hopper car’s rear end.
First order of business, get up to it. This meant either ladder or scaffold, for the safety-minded. But not so on this day.

02/02 Direct Link

Safety was out the window, well out of Davey’s frustratingly ham-fisted reach.
So he stood poised to make a stupid mistake.

The hopper car had been long since relieved of its wheels and as per common accepted practice, was mounted on sturdy jack stands, which meant it sat a good 4 feet off the floor.
Davey clambered up and stood on the tail end of the car, hoisting the torch and hose up after him.

Lighting the oxyacetylene torch while balancing precariously on the platform’s edge, Davey grasped the upright with his left hand and started cutting with the right.

02/03 Direct Link

This one-handed stuff, in and of itself was a big no-no – sort of like running a chainsaw with one hand: you could do it, but if something went wrong, it was shame, James!

Barely able to see the glowing kerfs through pockmarked burning goggles – ostensibly shade 3, but glory be – Davey continued cutting, feeling an unexpected surge of confidence that NOW, maybe, for once, something would go RIGHT.

Yet, no. In a flash, as the torch’s flame burst through the final bit of material, it snapped with a loud “TONNGGGG!” (The only way to describe it)

Guess where Davey went.

02/04 Direct Link

Yes, you can guess where Davey went;
so supine on his spine with energy spent.
His efforts thus far had been pretty lame;
good the fall from the car put out the flame.

’Flame’ in this case meant the 2000° oxyacetylene torch that had been searing through the metal upright only seconds before.

Davey didn’t remember hitting said floor, and may well have been knocked out for a short time; he does recall coming to with a soft hissing sound next to his head.
That was a thankfully UN-lit mixture of 15:1 oxyacetylene – a ticket to potential 3rd degree burns.

02/05 Direct Link

Now anyone reading Davey’s absurd recollections may realize that this post is redundant. Did Davey rail on about this railcar injury previously?
It’s hard to say.
His scrolling of prior publications is neat but organized in such a fashion that makes search cumbersome. Ergo, ‘cumbersome’, in the strictest colloquial and/or literary sense translates to ‘not worth pursuing’.

So apologies to any and all readers who may utter, “This friggin’ Davey’s a repetitive mutter.”

Anyway, as Davey was boo-hooing,
the immediate aftermath of his fall
did not incur severe pain;
for after all,
the ethanol
was coursing through many a vein.

02/06 Direct Link

 

Now then. This is NOW, that was THEN.
That then being the case, plumbing the depths of foggy memories shall hereby be in place.

Nobody likes being laughed at, no matter how tough they think their hide is. Moreover, most folks cannot hide their reaction to being the JOKE.

This time, the joke was on Davey as he laid, stunned, on the gritty shop floor, torch still in his outstretched palm.

Wendell “Tweed” Guernsey looked down at Davey and quipped, “hey, no layin’ down on the job!”
Davey felt like smacking him.
“Didn’t you see that?” Davey whined to Tweed.

02/07 Direct Link

‘Unbelievable’, Davey thought. That friggin’ joker didn’t see the fall; otherwise it would be Davey’s sure-fire backup for submitting a worker’s compensation claim.

Slowly, achingly, Davey peeled himself up off the floor and limped to the office, hoping to bend an understanding ear.
Describing the incident to Jim Campbell, Davey pleaded for a doctor checkup, and Campbell agreed.

Davey was sore in more ways than one;
and what was more, more had to be done.
On the walk home, he thought he could shirk
but still had no phone, and needed to work.

The joker-doctor’s office was 3 miles away.

02/08 Direct Link

Now, with the passage of 35+ years, again Davey finds a gaping memory hole – a not entirely unfamiliar proclivity..
To wit, he isn't certain whether he fired up the pimp-mobile or hoofed it.

Chances are it was the former,
and not the latter,
his ass a seat-warmer
should it then matter.
Yes, he has a hunch
that he'd not walk a bunch
to hear how the doctor would chatter.

Yet what a big letdown it turned out to be
this time at the doc's office spent;
“nothing is wrong with you,” thus said he
though over poor Davey was bent.

02/09 Direct Link

Davey bristled with a combination of disbelief and simmering rage.
Couldn't this bozo see – with all his 8 or so years of collegiate and medical education – that here was a clearly injured patient bent over like a friggin' pretzel?

The doctor explained, with a brusque, thick accent, pointing to the neck and thoracic X-rays, that “there is nothing wrong here,”

But something g—damn well WAS wrong, fercryinoutloud. Call it myofascial, ligament, cartilage-related trauma and resultant dysfunction or what have you, but Davey was in a seriously misshapen state. And here was a medical professional not apparently worth his salt.

02/10 Direct Link

This was a blow to Davey's sense of common sense. Yes, though he had little. But it would be another 6 or 7 years before he knew of such things as chiropractors.
So in the interim, it was simple: suffer. Live with it. Grow accustomed to the loss of height and nascent stages of an unwanted Dowager's Hump. Harrrrumph!

This incident stayed front and center in Davey's decidedly battered brain in the coming weeks while he struggled to maintain composure in the workplace.
Eventually, he got pissed off enough to call the doctor's office and complain.
It only seemed right.

02/11 Direct Link

Now this phone call thing presented obvious problems: as mentioned previously, Davey had no phone. Also keep in mind that this was a good 10 to 15 years before cellular communication via hand-held microwave radiation-emitting devices became affordable, let alone ubiquitous.
So once Davey got to the nearest functional telephonic apparatus, he looked up the doctor and dialed, feeling his heart pumping with the fight or flight rush of adrenal hormonal release.

One ring, then two.
With nothing to do.
Waiting for three,
where could they be?

A female voice answered: “Doctor Waggerwall's office.”
No “may I help you?”, though.

02/12 Direct Link

The receptionist sounded like she was chewing gum.
Davey once again felt a surge of anxiety while preparing to speak.
'Better face the music.'
So he pulled his tail from between his legs, hitched up his trousers a bit, cleared his throat and bellowed into the mouthpiece the following query, which was intended to be both antipersonnel and firmly to the point:
“Is the quack doctor there?”
The response surprised Davey:

“Which one?” Came the unexpected reply.

Floored, Davey didn't know whether to guffaw, fart,
or piss his pants.
Damn! A work of art!
He should give her a chance!

02/13 Direct Link

Pretending to be nonplussed, and again, if oft-faulty memory serves, Davey began to unload on the receptionist. After all, she obviously had a GREAT sense of humor and didn't mind slinging a barb at her bumbling boss.

“I mean, like, this guy [the doctor] didn't find ANYTHING wrong with me – and here I'm still bent like a friggin' banana!” Davey said.
“What do you suggest I do?”

“I dunno, honey, But you didn't get any help here.”

So bent-assed Davey crawled back into his shell with more than a smattering of resignation to live with this grinding, completely unwanted inconvenience.

02/14 Direct Link

This whole incident smelled like 13 day old shad.
Bad, bad, bad.
What a time he had.
But no point in that joint
to get interfriggin'hoppin' mad.

So this was to be Davey's first taste of the big time, playin' with the big boys in the big shop with their big toys.
More money was invested in that enterprise than any of the operators cared to lose, and keeping themselves out of imbroglios such as hurt employees bringing lawsuits and such was paramount to continued profitable operations.
Hey, that's the way the monkeys dance
at least in working class parlance.

02/15 Direct Link
Davey realized that he had been duped, sent to the company's sweetheart doctor who's job it was to NOT confirm any given worker's injury, but rather to either make as light as possible of it or deny injury altogether.

Or perhaps put another way, the worker, through a carefully cultivated process of medical ignorance and intimidation, would succumb and cease pursuit of any attempts at worker's compensation claims.

That being said, and all things being unequal, Davey's biggest mistake had been getting hurt without witnesses to clarify what had happened; then his claim to continued care would have been justifiable.

02/16 Direct Link

In the end, Davey knew
he had taken a fall;
but what more could he do?
Had he then seen it all?
Without any treatment,
not given a drug,
he saw what defeat meant
and gave it a shrug.

Anyway, on to bigger and not so much better things as the days wore on amid the shop din, Davey with fetter could see through the haze;
with his nights he continued to sin.

Ethanol-laced beverages did indeed mollify the pain as his back and neck slowly healed.
He couldn't help thinking back to that hilarious brief conversation with Waggerwall's receptionist.

02/17 Direct Link

In the grand scheme of things, this denial incident was a tiny slice of standard operating procedure at companies with workers routinely engaged in hazardous occupations.

For the insurance industry, however, the workers' compensation pool represents a somewhat larger slice of their giant cake: a highly profitable parasitic business model written into law in their favor.
Meanwhile, prey companies, being required by law to buy workers' compensation insurance, cower in fear of premiums being jacked to the stratosphere should accidents requiring coverage occur.

Granted, workers' compensation pools ostensibly protect workers at such firms, and fraudulent claims do occasionally get submitted.

02/18 Direct Link

This is one way of looking at it, from the business man's perspective; after all, workers are a LIABILITY when they fall into the category of not only nonfunctional [as result of injuries sustained in the workplace], but also if they try and pursue either a) claims against the company for safety procedures not followed, b) time off due to injury, or c) catastrophic medical care requiring large expenditures.

Yes, workers' comp is supposed to cover ALL workers, even those in wimpy professions, yet hurt workers may have a fight on their hands should they try and engage supposed coverage.

02/19 Direct Link

Thus having railed,
seeing what was entailed,
dull Davey began to smile;
for that workers' comp
had been so full of pomp
he forgot about work for a while.

That being known,
he was bad to the bone
with duties he could no longer shirk;
so he got off his ass
figured 'just let it pass',
and headed thus on back to work.

Ironing out legal liabilities and procedural difficulties were not Davey's stock in trade, though he smarted from this rebuff.
No, he had sh** to do, and big bolts to screw;
to 'just do it' was never enough.

02/20 Direct Link

Among the many misadventures enjoyed by this diverse shop worker cadre would be an obvious one: STRIKE. Many welcomed such a confrontational interruption of daily mundane operations with its attendant bangin', clangin', fume-producing madness. They could then hold signs and let off steam, bangin' and clangin' to passing motorists.

After all, a trip to the “sh**house” would reveal workers' true intentions and desires better than any meeting, arbitration or conversation.

Scrawled on any vertical flat surface, and adorning white-painted plywood toilet stalls, could be found deeply philosophical diatribes expounded forcefully in black felt-tip pens such as the classic: “MORE MONEY”

02/21 Direct Link

None of these working stiffs had been born yesterday. That was for sure. But they seemed to adhere to some rather boneheaded nostrums that trickled down through the ages via the much-ballyhooed and nostalgic union brotherhood pipeline.

One facet of this that stayed front and center – and indeed seemed emblazoned on any shop steward's forehead – was this:
'This company has plenty of money.
They need to get up off it.
When they do, they owe it to US.
After all, we bust ass, don't we?'

Honorable mention should be made to those who really did honestly bust ass within reason.

02/22 Direct Link

This is not to in any way denigrate, writ-large, the fraternal brotherhood of unionism as a paradigm whose necessity was exemplified in the rough and tumble workplace of yesteryear, with its robber-barons and such, but rather to perhaps poke fun at unionist attempts as expressed in this motley gaggle of bodies.

Thus it should be construed as simply an objective observation made by one stiff on the line sweating under the same roof and playing by the same rules, either superimposed by rabble-rousers or company staff.

This game of cat and mouse had no doubt been played from time immemorial.

02/23 Direct Link

The cat, of course, being the big, bad company, usually engendered as a greedy moneybags outfit; a commandeering network of overbearing, overly demanding moguls hell bent on milking every last drop of sweat and of course, production, from the groveling masses.

And if ‘Nut’ had his way, we would believe it.

Nut – aptly named, if ever a moniker was worth a thousand words – was a master rabble-rouser, and not surprisingly, shop steward.

If the squeakiest wheel gets the most grease, the loudest mouth gets the longest lease.
So working britches could get their crease
and Nut’s non-wonders would never cease.

02/24 Direct Link

Hardly anybody knew Nut’s real name, which was Frank Gobalski. Funny, Davey was tempted to ask Nut if he wasn’t actually Irish, due to his rabid temper.

A short, stocky man, Nut strutted as if much taller, hitching up his ass at times, wearing considerable ego on his sleeve.
No, he wasn’t short on confidence.

So when the time came to do the actual walkout, Nut was front and center, organizing, barking orders and making sure no SCABS would be manning the till during the hoped-for strike.
Nope, it was high time to exact revenge against this F**in’ company, damnit!

02/25 Direct Link

Davey languished in a state of obvious naiveté, not having ever experienced such a thing. After all, six bucks an hour seemed a princely wage at a time when not much in the way of meaningful remunerative work was otherwise available.
Why, then, would these idiots want to screw themselves out of a week’s pay – or worse?

If anyone had misgivings about striking, they had better keep a lid on it; you couldn’t walk out on the walkout. How ironic!

It would be shift work, Nut assured, with hastily assembled crews taking turns in useless activities, waving signs and hollering.

02/26 Direct Link

This noting ventured, nothing gained churning by intentionally churlish strikers – in the possibly fruitless pursuit of more dollars – was most contrived, and after a few days, it grew old for many, Davey included. But here again, you didn’t dare cave to the urge to bolt, to just slide on home and pop a few beers.
No, my boy, this was solidarity.
You were in it for the long haul, or else.

Davey the naďve welder wannabe wasn’t prepared to discover what that ‘or else’ implied.

Most townsfolk cruising by that decrepit part of town could care less about our proceedings.

02/27 Direct Link

Oh, they got a few honks;
were they policy wonks?
Maybe, possibly, perhaps
but most folks gave two craps.
By the end of the strike
would they have what they like?
Or, having thus struck
be sh** outta luck
or worse yet, then hit the pike?

Luckily, finally, tensions were mended
murmurs and mentions of ends thus portended
distances kept, with not many befriended,
and the much-ballyhooed strike was ended.

It was a hot and sweaty mess in the street,
that trampling over crumbling concrete,
and now it was time
for some work to complete
let no non-union labor compete!

02/28 Direct Link

Oh, how proudly the bellicose Nut
did sing loudly his chest-thumping smut!
Victory sweet, yes, was best tasted cold;
and Nut, so complete, was feeling quite bold.
But most of the crew went, hat in hand,
their energy spent from a week on the stand.
Nothing much more you could happily say
‘cause they all lost a whole damn week’s pay!

Davey kept his inner mutterings to himself. But he was pissed. Righteously pissed. In fact, he felt like stringing that crazy-assed Nut up by his scrotal hairs and slapping him.

This harebrained scheme had been Nut’s idea, hadn’t it?