my chair, a child’s stool where my arms rest on either leg as I type. My life is in re-adjustment at the moment. For eight months and one week the days have been forty hours. This is the third day into the 24 hours-are-mine-mode. This morning around ten a.m. the decision was made to stop by a local business that had advertised via the internet. No internet apps or calls it said. Stop by in person.

Walking into the cool metal building I was suddenly aware that four heads jerked up, staring as if I were an intruder in a jungle setting. The look on their faces and the feeling that permeated the air signaled DANGER, INTERLOPER, RRRRRRRR…just like an unhappy cat. While they continued to stare without a hint of smile on their lips or eyes, I asked were applications still being accepted. Scanning each face, my purpose was to let them know I was open to dealing with any of the four. One finally murmured, “Yeah, I think they are…” Someone walked across and pushed the application sheets and gave me a pen. My gut feeling indicated drama in this place. Setting down, the application was short, which was great considering I wanted to do this as fast as possible and skee-daddle. Not in a long time have I felt THAT much wariness from the female sector. You would’ve thought I’d asked could I date their boyfriend or husband. Which would’ve been hilarious since I could be their mother for sure, probably one or two, their GRANDmothers.

After squinting to read the sections, (no way was I going back to my car for glasses) thankfully a male walked in and standing up, I offered the application into his hand with his response of, ” I’ll give it to him”…I thanked him, opened the door and exited the estrogen dominated chokehold.  

I think I heard a faint noise after the door closed…I’ll bet they have their own in-house shredders…if you know what I mean…RRRRRRR…

 

 

 

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This was what we always called it. The formal name of Byrd Manufacturing very seldom crossed our lips. Twenty-six miles one way from our house, my mother made her way to the plant in “Twinkle Town” for around two or three years. She didn’t drive, so she carpooled and in that fifty-two mile round trip she made our living.

Although a manufacturer of men’s shirts, I remember her also talking about ladies blouses, pajamas, and short sets. The beehive of mostly women workers earned their paychecks to live their daily lives in whatever custom their lot in life afforded them. Mama had worked there before and when she and her younger sister went to apply, the people already knew them. My mother was over the age they were looking for, but she looked years younger. The hiring manager was a man and he actually told her this. He put her back to work.

She didn’t sew, but inspected garments for package readiness. She learned to break a collar, and look for sewing flaws like extra buttonholes, or if the garment didn’t hang correctly. This was knowledge she stored away and brought out with every future clothing purchase. Once, she was tying blouse bows and her supervisor brought over one of the big bosses from up North. Mama thought she was in trouble, but they wanted to see how she made her bows. They gave her a blouse and she flipped it around opposite from how she received it, thereby solving the mystery of how she was able to tie such a pretty bow. Afterwards, it was standard procedure. Such a simple concept and Mama had managed to grasp what no one else had.

She would talk about how at lunch she would take her Dr. Pepper and pour  a package of peanuts into the bottle. How the supervisors would make a lot of the women cry and that some of their nerves were shot. Her own words were something in the neighborhood of, “They’ll never make me/ see me shed a tear.” and to my knowledge, she never did.

Her hands began to take offense at the fabric dyes. They would crack and bleed and she would put ointment on them prescribed by the doctor. I remember sitting in her lap scratching the parched skin in her palms with my tiny fingers and she would say how good it felt. Years later when I was grown, we talked about her days there. She said my Nanny (her mother) told her, “You said you would work for them until your hands bled and now you have.” She did exactly that. She loved us and bled for us at the Shirt Factory.

Sometimes…

June 5, 2012

it’s like I’m looking through a large picture window. I watch silently as others parade by through venues of family, work, worship, weddings, funerals, anniversaries, holidays, etc. repeating themselves year after year through the course of this life. I sit and watch  on some days. Other times I stand at a distance and look at those who are involved in the situation. On occasion, with nose pressed so close I can feel the warmth of my own breath, I stare into the scene, trying to see how all this is taking place and longing to be there to help me understand and have  connection.

The conclusion comes to me as I turn and walk away. It is a window for gazing; not to call out to, nor join myself within its framework. In the hall  I  stare at  my reflection in a mirror. In bed, my eyes close waiting for the night to give my mind rest. I have no part of  what is another’s. I have only what is mine.

Workin’ Man…

February 2, 2010

My husband is working long, crazy hours. It’s good since we can use the money. He’s been on an 11.5 hour shift today in a cold plant and just called to say he’s on the way home. His routine will be shower, eat, rest with tv, then sleep a few hours and go right back to the grind. What is the point to all this? It makes one wonder. Especially since all the hours spent at the plant still do not make a dent in the way of bills. Sound familiar? This, my friends has become the new American way of life. But, at least supper and the love of his family is waiting.