there was a giant machine
about 20 people stood around the circular machine
into the hoppers...
the machine was cleverly referred to as;
the hopper would go around and around,
when there was a paper jam
or when someone's station ran out of material to feed into the machine-
the machine would stop,
an alarm would sound-
a man with a blue uniform, would show up
a man with a blue uniform that had a name tag on it,
dave or bill or rex
would clear the jamb,
or fix the machine,
or simply just turn off the buzzer/alarm
while one of us non uniformed people would load more papers
into the machine,
this went on for 8 hours a day
and it was terrible.
there were other stations
and other non uniformed men and women
they stood at these other stations,
these other machines
and performed tasks-
until other alarms would sound...
and then dave
would come and attend to the alarm...
there was a bundler
a shrink wrapper-
was uniquely horrible.
the newspapers would travel around the hopper
make their way to the sorter
some would detour to the shrink wrapper
then off to the loading dock area
all the while, on conveyors
making their way to a another man
in a different colored uniform...
these men with their different colored uniforms
were truck drivers-
and one of the non uniformed people would load the stacked,
or shrink wrapped papers
into the back of the truck
would close the door
and drive off,
only to be seen again- right before it was time to punch out...
one particular day
my boss grabbed me
and took me into another area of the factory
different uniforms with different names,
and of course
there were different non uniformed people-
he showed me around, explained some things
we had a smoke
and then he walked me back to my station at
it was a nice, but all too short break from the mundane.
i hated standing there;
listening to buzzers go off
waiting for rex to come
and clear the paper jam...
i wasn't sure how i was going to do this for the rest of the day
or the week
let alone do it for the rest of my life...
the day that my boss showed me around;
it was only my 2nd day
and a small piece of me was already dead inside...
i realized that; each day
each moment that went by
another piece of me
would die a little more
until there was nothing left
except a skeleton,
without a name tag
waiting for a blue uniform of my own, that would likely never come...
i worked there for about 30 days
and then one day i just didn't show up-
that was 23 years a go...
i never called
or went back to get my check
no more buzzers
no blue uniformed men.
they could keep my last check
they could have it all
it was a small price to pay
for my freedom
and it had to be paid,
and all costs...