For my final installment of "Working Class Hero" I'll condense my final blue collar jobs into one post. Interspersed with the Ice Plant, since it was a seasonal job, I worked for a Navajo sculptor named Alvin for a couple of months. He would create native dancers and other emblems of the Navajo Nation out of rock and take them to Phoenix to sell at an art gallery in Scottsdale. He was a phenomenal artist and my job was to cut the base of the rock per his design and set the stage for his work. Especially on deadlines, we would work up to 16 hour days. I would start the day making a fire in the shop, he would then draw lines on the rock showing me where to cut with the saw. Alvin also had a small sweatlodge on his property and one day he decided we needed to enter the sweatlodge and pray to be cleansed. My day started with chopping wood to build a large fire that was used to heat up the volcanic rock used to heat and steam the tent. After working on that and various other projects during the day, we placed the rocks in the tent, poured water over them to create steam and entered the lodge to pray. He prayed in Navajo and I sat there with my hands stingin' from the steam seaping into my blistered hands! It was a neat experience I will never forget!
Following my two years in Ohio proselytizing, I returned to Farmtown and landed a job at a furniture store called Haelig-Meyers. I worked in the warehouse with about 6 other Navajo dudes...I was the only white dude. It was a blast! This was the most physically taxing job I've ever had. Re-arranging the warehouse, unloaded shipments, deliveries, etc. My '76 F-150 had no power steering, so driving home at night with sore forearms was painful! We goofed around a lot as well though...there was always music in the warehouse, Marilyn Manson, Ozzy, Metallica and the guys loved my Ozzy impersonation! One day during down time, we decided to knock each other out by choking each other. I was instructed to hold my breath, stare at the light and a guy would choke me. It took him a while to knock me out because I would keep laughing...but eventually he got me! It was then my turn to knock out a co-worker named Avery. We both stood as I wrapped my hands around his neck and squeezed with all my might...he immediately passed out and went limp, I caught him before he hit the ground, but it freaked me out! I suddenly had visions of "manslaughter conviction" dancing in my head! One of the traditions on the team...call it a "team building activity" was to jump a guy on his last day of work, if he was resigning! I had been there two months and was resigning to move to Utah. On my last day, I went on a delivery into Colorado and we locked the key in the truck and it took all night to get the truck unlocked. Apparently, my co-workers waited quite a while for me to return so they could give me the customary send off, but we didn't make it back until about midnight that night...too bad!
My last blue collar job was my first job in Utah. I was hired to work for Bear Creek Country Kitchens, a dehydrated soup/food manufacturer in Heber City. My initial position was on the "clean up crew"...errr janitor. After three months, I was taught how to drive a forklift and was promoted to the shipping/receiving docks. I interacted extensively with truck drivers...classy people! I worked there with a good buddy from Ohio who went by the name "Skirt"...we had another co-worker named Braden who was a total hippie, complete with the thick beard (we called him Moses...he called me Hollywood...no idea why) We would all play basketball after work and I soon gained my typical B-ball reputation! The owners son, the General Manager, would also play. One day, I was approached by the company owner, an old cantankerous man who, as he approached me, said "I heard you're a mean son-of-a-bitch on the basketball court!"...to which I replied, "you heard right!" I think my response threw him off and he immediately turned around grumbling something as he walked off. We worked long hours, weekends...I once worked a 20 hour day! We went to Jazz games, threw hay at the owners ranch, I was once referred to by my boss as a "22 year old snot nose with an attitude!"...which in retrospect was completely accurate! I never said anything that warranted termination, I would only push the envelope just enough to make my point and piss off my supervisor, who was a 29 year old snot nose with an attitude!
In conclusion, I think the reason I look back at these jobs with fondness is twofold: 1) Physically demanding and rewarding. 2) I could do and say things I can't anymore, due to having much more responsibility now. I guess the trade off is now I have company directors and managers coming to me for advice, whereas back then I was just a goon. Memories....
Wild about my Child
5 years ago