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BY Davey H

04/01 Direct Link

Davey thought Tweed had busted his ass
when, as per need, it then came to pass
that one fine Monday morning
and on time. without warning
Tweed the fine steed was a GAS.

So if you should care, uh
Tweed bought a Pantera
and was showing it off in the yard;
the guys were nonplussed
as 'oer the car fussed
and some said
their dicks were bone-hard.

So before it was over
this Tweed's four-leaf clover
the lot of them broke all the rules;
Tweed's ride wouldn't stall
as the men had a ball
and shouted forth this: APRIL FOOLS!

04/02 Direct Link

Back on the shop floor that was comprised of creosote-saturated wooden 'bricks', the boys of summer got their kicks. Once in a while, though, errors were committed by certain white hats who sometimes through shop flitted.

Bob Winson buttonholed
Davey one day
with a 'request',
he guessed you could say.
As sharp as a pencil,
Bob asked him to stencil
some paint on the side of a car.
Though Davey would fidget
the paint was a digit
that may not have gotten him far.

'Twas a union shop,
so forget all the slop:
that meant Davey could only hit 'stop'.

04/03 Direct Link

What a crock of shit this was!
Um, like, HELLO!
Davey got chided
he weakly confided
with white-hats he'd sided
thus was roundly derided
as he was made into Jell-O®!

It figures bigassed Bear would figure out that Davey, a welder and mechanic, had been called upon to perform the simplest of tasks: spray-painting numerals and letters on the customary lower right side of a boxcar.
This was where the “LT Weight” and load capacity figures were customarily posted, and Davey figured he just could have coasted.

But a major uproar ensued, as this stenciling was outside his job classification.

04/04 Direct Link

It also figures that the often snide, slightly stuck-up 'Smitty' was out of his stationed area, painting other cars somewhere else. So maybe he didn't actually have a 'stationed' area; his paint-sloppin' efforts could be tapped by any vein of the shop for any car. That meant even passenger cars.

So the greatly impatient Bob Winson took it upon himself to hasten the process with what he thought to be a simple application of a decal and/or stencil.
NOT!!

One could understand his concerns, even commiserate; after all, payday for the company only began with getting cars out the door.

04/05 Direct Link

Tweed's “layin' down next to the wall.” quote, however, was a glimpse into the deeper desperation that he hid from view whilst burnin' rods during the workday.

Being a black man in a mostly white shop, Tweed may well have been affected by perceived notions of prejudice on behalf of his whitey cohorts. But even if he was, he sure didn't wear it on his sleeve. And to be frank, most, if not all of his cohorts respected him for his skills and non-confrontational nature.

Even Bear, the only one who may have caused trouble in that department, respected Tweed.

04/06 Direct Link

Okay, so much for bullsh**. That was a necessity in this silly-assed age of ours, this April Fools thing. Oh, well, at least it’s not violent or pornographic.
Apologies for the lack of info-graphic.

Truth be told, Davey never did see what Tweed had for wheels. Tweed, it could be noted, was one of the lower profile characters that just seemed to appear each day, on the job, getting his mitts dirty, layin' bead. You would rarely see him come in the door. If you looked, you could find him; generally he kept his head down, nose to the grindstone.

04/07 Direct Link

Tweed, indeed, as per the need
did rules with fools completely heed.
It seemed he never took a fall
not hindered by his lusty wall.
And from that wall, skip, jump or hop
he'd make his way down to the shop.
Always calm and never pissed
but never a somnambulist
he waxed proud, but never loud
nor waving either fist.

Davey could relate to Tweed's coolness
and ability to work under pressure.
Thus, no fuss, to work under Tweed
was like having a good book to read.

The Tweed gig was a boost for Davey,
whose time was winding down.

04/08 Direct Link

If faulty memory recalls
what happened next,
Davey, with intact balls
wouldn’t be inexorably vexed.

Signs were appearing
that Davey’s former gung-ho-ness
was unalterably on the wane.
No need of a wind vane.

Nope, it would not be necessary
to raise a moistened digit
for the purpose of detecting wind direction
for this one:
he was losing interest
and nothing could be done about it.

Davey had made the rounds
with these working class hounds,
and had learned quite a bit about life,
human-machine interaction,
repair of things thought 2 B destroyed,
and erection of metal objects in the process.

04/09 Direct Link

Whilst erections persisted in terms of metal objects on the job, Davey’s only visceral erection was one of a façade, a dithering badass with grime on his mitts and gray matter in his snot. But gray matter inside his cranium? NOT!

At times like this, he would take a piss,
with a shout and a hoot on the precipice
he would fight each slight
working day or night
and try not to let his fears come to light.

Of course he was ‘job scared’ to some extent,
though certainly not to the degree of those
who had families to support.

04/10 Direct Link

The honorable denizens of rail car repair with whom Davey worked each day were all too happy to be in the fray.
But those who wrote on the shit-house walls
begging for MONEY in bestial scrawls
only cared about one thing
so perhaps this work was a seasonal fling.

Davey fell somewhere in the middle – the story of his life, as he would say a little, and he wasn’t about to just up and leave on account of some boredom and complacency.
In fact, six bucks an hour was more than ample
and gave him power for each ethanol sample!

04/11 Direct Link

But things were winding down,
yes, it seemed,
and Davey would frown
as he often daydreamed
of leaving that place
where he learned how to weld
and thus saving face
before he was felled.

So in this state of affairs, complacency led to boredom,
which in turn lent itself to agitation and mischief – on the Boss’s nickel, of course.

And boys being boys, what’s the first thing to come to mind – especially for those raised on GI Joe and war toys?

Bingo: things that go BANG!

As we shall examine in subsequent posts, all the requisite ingredients were on hand.

04/12 Direct Link

Some idle time is always necessary for any given mischief procedure to be successfully executed, as per the old adage, and this lag betwixt completion of in-house projects was one such period.
Not all workers felt the same way, and the more moral fellows would of course not participate in the least, no matter what the extracurricular proceedings were comprised of.

Suffice to say that in the context of ‘things that go BANG!’, oxyacetylene could top the list, given favorable circumstances.
Of course in the course of normal operations, it performed a necessary task, as all things worked their course.

04/13 Direct Link

Yes, the beloved oxyacetylene mixture – piped to the business end of any given torch on any given day at approximately a 15:1 ratio – sliced and diced effectively through many sections of sturdy steel, with its resultant residuals going up in the form of hot gases and slag, but feed said mixture into an enclosed space, provide a source of ignition, and BOOOOM!

Perhaps the idea got started when a worker got that initial “POP!” when lighting his torch. Even just that tiny pocket of raw oxyacetylene between the nozzle and the striker would go off with a surprisingly loud report.

04/14 Direct Link

So the next step was to harness this explosive power to scurrilous ends. Looking around, it wasn’t hard to find discarded coffee cups lying about, and the bigger the cup, the better the boom. Thus the sound could echo throughout the room.

20 ounce cups worked best: placing the cup face down on a horizontal non-flammable surface, the mischief-maker would punch a small hole in the side, place the torch in the hole and push the lever, thus filling the cup with fresh oxyacetylene.
Next, he’d light the torch, step back, bring the flame close to the cup and POW!

04/15 Direct Link

Other vessels worked well for these impromptu improvised “fireworks”, and empty caulking tubes made quite a splash. But this run of potentially unsafe pranks would not survive the scrutiny of the safety or common sense minded individuals who frequented such hazardous machinery in the nearby vicinity of the prankster’s “rocket launches”.

One such old man was particularly vocal about this, and had a perfect right to be so.
As a daily user of the “ironwork” – a powerful mechanical contraption that could shear 3/8” thick steel at the pull of a lever – this man had reason to bitch. And bitch loudly.

04/16 Direct Link

This being the case,
and with mischief apace,
Davey lost face
all over the place.

The old man called him in
for this dastardly sin;
Davey lost his grin
at the drop of a pin.

Well, at least the gent didn’t call Davey OUT. No, that would have been a friggin’ disaster; Davey had never learned how to fight or even effectively defend himself, though he had become an accomplished wrestler in his younger days. Holy Sh**: would he face off with the old man?

Fight-or-flight adrenaline gushed on the day Davey got summoned into the office for a chat.

04/17 Direct Link

Woozy with dread and guilt,
Davey staggered into the office,
feeling a forward tilt.

Present here in the office grill
were, he did fear, those who wanted to KILL.
As time drew near, guilty Davey’d not shill
as that would have not fit the bill.

Friggin’ GUILTY. Guilty as charged.
It was a small gathering, of course, with Jim Campbell, Bob Vinson, Davey, and the old man whose name Davey never got. Good it was an old man he also never fought.

The old man didn’t mince words. He launched into a surprisingly expletive-bereft tirade aimed directly at Davey’s person.

04/18 Direct Link

Ironically, no OSHA personnel were present at the Davey grill, if you will, as this would have branded him the biggest, fattest, most disingenuous hypocrite that had ever walked the filthy floors of this rail car repair facility.

Bob Vinson, Jim Campbell and the old man could well have been perceived to be judge, jury and prosecutor in the case at hand. But the old man was the one to take the stand.

Thus, he began:
“You guys are always hollerin' about safety. Hell, you don't even know what the word means!” he huffed, eyes preparing to exit his skull.

04/19 Direct Link

Going further as he continued with the railing he launched here at the rail car repair facility office [though not, to Davey's perception, being immediately aware of the irony inherent in such an undertaking], the old man noted how common sense and indeed, sanity, had been completely overlooked in the mischief makers' zeal to cut up with their improvised explosive devices.

Here it should be noted that these were IEDs indeed – and with implementation in a non-war setting – being snarlingly and uselessly proffered two decades before the acronym became popularized during the Bush administration's illegal war of choice in Iraq.

04/20 Direct Link

Midway through his passionate, unscripted release of hot carbon dioxide which searingly blasted precisely in Davey's direction, the old man drew attention to the ironwork, uttering the following verse: “Where do you get off lighting bombs when I have my hand in that ironwork over yonder? Did you stop to think about that?”

Sadly, Davey hadn't – and from the looks of it, he had become the poster child and primary instigator in the company's IED problem.

Guilty, guilty, friggin' guilty as sin;
the old man for Davey sure had it in.
Time to go hide in the recycle bin.

04/21 Direct Link

After the dust had settled following the improvised fireworks debacle, Davey kept his head down and nose to the proverbial grindstone for a while. Surprisingly, he didn't lose his job.
The near-continuous and ever extant WTW (worker to worker) teasing continued unabated, instigated mostly by Nicky and Jim Bowen, with occasional snarky snipes from Lew Smith, to whom sarcasm came easily.
Davey would be the butt of jokes for the time being, having hung out his mischievous shingle, shown his dappled colors, and practically begged for it.

Lurking in the back of his mind, Davey knew this was Strike Two.

04/22 Direct Link

In spring, things let up a bit after that nasty-ass winter, and Davey could, if you would, chop wood without splinter.

Outdoor work was available at times, perhaps not due to a full house, but in the interest of efficiency; damaged sections could just as easily be torched off the cars as they sat in queue awaiting entry to the shop.

This was a bit of a relief for Davey, as he preferred to work outside in decent weather anyway. In a sense, it was an opportunity to be ‘out of the pressure cooker’ whilst still remaining on the stove.

04/23 Direct Link

Reasonably fresh air was not the exclusive benefit of working out in the yard on the incoming rails with all it entails; a worker could, if shrewd, MILK the hell out of a job, within reason, of course.

Peering eyes from under white hats were less likely to penetrate the work bubble of an outdoor worker, but a reasonable amount of production was compulsory.

And as was also to be expected, a project could inevitably run into unforeseen glitches. This, to the uninitiated, was not only par for the course but an opportunity to milk a job to the max.

04/24 Direct Link

Thus, it was on one of these breezy spring days that Davey was assigned to a biffed, banged up boxcar with a curiously bifurcated tailpiece. His job, should he accept it, was to cut the horizontal plates that held the vertical pieces, which in turn supported whatever else was in the mix. It’s not clear at the time of publication which was where, what, or how, as remember, this sh** was over 30 years ago.

Leaning hard into the task, struggling to see through the shade 3 burning goggles with sun blaring down behind him, Davey mashed the torch lever.

04/25 Direct Link

It seems now, 30 years hence,
that Davey was not just straddling the fence.
This locale, oh guy or gal,
was reason to get tense.

So stop that smirking!
At least he was working
and seeking fair recompense;
whilst yearning and burning
turning and learning,
but not using common sense!

It was in a weak moment, as the old adage goes, that Davey got burned – and burned big-time.
Nothing catastrophic, mind you; just a fat blob of red-hot slag that found its way via gravity into Davey’s right boot.

He actually saw it start to fall,
that evil red-hot ball.

04/26 Direct Link

Needless to say,
Davey danced and screamed,
though mostly it was in vain;
because it hurt worse
than he’d ever dreamed;
an excruciating pain!

The devil is in the details, so here goes: Davey had been remiss during the period when workers could put in a boot order; besides, he spent nearly all of his decidedly disposable income on perishable ethanol-based beverages and ancillary frivolities.

Some of the footwear catalog entries were for ‘slag-proof’ boots – curious contraptions that featured a little flap over the lace area.
This could have saved Davey some serious foot-ache that his half-assed boots had not.

04/27 Direct Link

In fact, the plain-Jane boots Davey was wearing at the time of the slag incursion incident actually provided a small cup for receiving said slag. What an ass-whuppin’ DRAG!

Work interrupted: since this was such a horrific experience, Davey knew he couldn’t just swallow this sudden unsustainable discomfort and remain stoic in the face of it.
No, that gig would only have been necessary had he been surrounded by a surly jury of his peers. Hah! Then, it would be essential to ‘never let ‘em see you sweat’.

Limping bathroom-ward as inconspicuously as possible, Davey gingerly pulled off the sock.

04/28 Direct Link

Rinsing the ailing ankle in cool water, Davey glared at the rapidly swelling pink flesh.

Thin skin was nothing new to him;
nor to his kin, like his Granddad so slim.
This lineage hailed from the British Isles;
his cousins coquettish with skittish smiles.
And one thing those kinfolk
had quickly learned
was hey, no joke
in the sun they soon burned.

So what difference
did this little incident make
on pink skin so thin
that heat it couldn’t take?

The ankle was an ugly mess, a spider-shaped splotch turning redder by the minute.
Should Davey have reported this burn?

04/29 Direct Link

No, Davey did not report the slag boot burn thing, not due to any fear of repercussions, but at least partly out of pride and wishing to avoid humiliation. Moreover, since the mysterious vandalistic candy machine episode and the improvised fireworks debacle, Davey’s ass was sliding on some rather thin ice.

But hey, ice would have felt DAMN GOOD right about this time.
So he hobbled back out and finished up the day, eager to lick his wounds when work turned to play.
And although it was certainly too late for ice,
he had to seek some good medical advice.

04/30 Direct Link
Back at the flat, lacking telephone, telegraph, or even a friggin’ CB radio, Davey knew where he needed to go.
Only one choice existed, oh yes,
and so he persisted up to CVS. (Or whatever chain pharmacy outlet was extant in that part of the world in this epoch.

It is not clear at the time of this scribbling just who it was that offered the burn coverage advice, but it turned out to be sound indeed.

The protocol was to keep the burned area covered at all times, changing the dressing judiciously as conditions, such as pus buildup, dictate.