MyStoryYourStory — Reaching for waning daylight

Paula Damon

Paula Damon

By Paula Damon

The time is pre-1970 and exhausted factory workers sigh deeply at the steam whistle’s first billowy blow – wonderful music, sending them in squalls straining toward the exterior door of the Art Metal Manufacturing plant in Jamestown, New York. And later, whole bands dash in a dead heat for the Exit.

Once outside, most are sprinting, others galloping, while still others quickly walking in long strident steps to the gravel parking lot, where time takes on a wordless euphoria, a state only these can aptly define while airily finishing the 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift.

Their eyes squint out sunlight, as they leap with awkward exuberance and graceless might into wide-open arms of the day’s remains.

With recurrent certainty, quitting time poses seductively, sweetly pronouncing a perennial consolation – the undeniable release from churning monotony left-on assembly lines, looming behind them as hostile timekeepers of their past, present and future.

There they go running with sweat-stained armpits and hungry stomachs – weary souls cheerfully escaping those four walls, as they end another forgettable day fluted with few breaks.

Systematically, their minds, previously pinched by the mundane, now churn as they dart searchingly for the family car loaded down with bobbing heads of insatiably antsy children and tolerant nerves of patiently waiting wives. Now champions in the sprint, they will wear greetings of shouts, hugs and kisses as prized medallions around their necks.

Many in their prime, yet buried alive by their own futures sentenced within those four walls, are gleeful, unable to hide their exuberance to be finished with another long day of manufacturing fireproof metal desks, file cabinets, carts for typewriters – office equipment destined for who knows where: fisheries in Maine, car manufacturing plants in South Carolina and public libraries in Ohio. Perhaps.

For eight long hours, they have kept company with boredom – fitting, sizing, clamping, finishing – spending their time building furniture for hordes of faceless, nameless workers in different states – a growing inventory that later would export to other countries and continents.

The currency of their day now spent, they high-step it out of there, some with below par agility from aching bones melded in pain from long hours on concrete floors.

Strenuously, they reach for waning hours of daylight, not yet spoiled by nightfall. Pulses race while chasing by one another, ever advancing to finish lines in one-room flats nearby, three-room apartments down the way or tidy bungalows across town.

Nature’s succulent, deliciously raw vibrancy are background to their jaunts: trace fragrances of lush vegetation filling the air, proud puffy robins fluttering about, rat-a-tat woodpeckers prodding hallowed deadwood, a flock of gulls harping overhead.

Look at them – all gritty, hard-working linemen –a picture of recurrent misery, running for their lives into what precious little is left of the day.

Their eyes squint out sunlight, as they leap with awkward exuberance and graceless might into wide-open arms of the day’s remains.

With recurrent certainty, quitting time poses seductively, sweetly pronouncing a perennial consolation – the undeniable release from churning monotony left-on assembly lines, looming behind them as hostile timekeepers of their past, present and future.

Tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>