Every day is the everyday. At the plant we manufacture in bursts of hours until all twenty-four are accountable. Lately we’ve made nothing but Molotovs and not what you’d think but modernised machines: trinky things, hand-pocket-engines. Fit in your purse if you’ve got one. Along they come, down the line, with a gap in-between per the regs. The plant has fifty lines and ten operators apiece because even in the modern world this is how it’s done. The shift is segmented «sequenced» thus:
input→ process→ output→ (collation)
My preference is for output; I’ve an eye for that sort of thing «Quality Control» although collation keeps you alert, itself requiring Q.C. I try not to worry about what we make, although that’s also a difficult thing, but there are times I can numb myself, become able to turn off. I’ve been here so long and can remember all sorts of histories but change happens. Often I remember when all it took was to keep one eye open and both feet flat; I don’t weigh so much and hold a good posture «as a girl I was sent to finishing school». It’s come in handy but still I often think: This world has taught me nothing. I’ve met so many people, not always good or kind, and some days I sway from inexpectation to demand, from idealism to real–. If there’s one thing this job’s good for then it’s focus, but that word – say it again – is hard, and when focus is your job there’s not all much chance you want to do it when at not job
work→ diminishes→ words
When I get time off my voice comes back and my mind gets to breathe but focus is a thing hard to retain. Been here so long they ask me to vet the forms and the forms also require the word. Furthermore: reli– and dependability and a demanding of trust. I am «or have» all these things and also possess a conscience; not a formal requirement – people come here, they know what we do – but conscience-use is a luxury for the ill-off and my own is for Sundays at best; kept aside for special occasions because there are necessary and essential things like eating, or the need to live and to move and to breathe. The purchase of items also, because I have to be clothed, although these things are ultimately distractions and not components of focus.
Here are components:
valves + tubing→ triggers + lines→ casings + ball-bearings
All singular parts and essential. And all components are such because the system is efficient: everything is a system; one which loops and is integral; linked and compounded; predictable and dependable; trustworthy and reliable unless at fault. T-ness & R-ability are qualities ascribed to people but there’s no reason they can’t be applied to machines, T in particular «a kind of knowing» and it’s actually harder to trust people because they’re unpredictable: a person’s heart might stop at any moment whereas a machine never fails if well-maintained; there’s no such thing as Sudden Mechanical Death because there’s always a diagnosable fault and being the reason I find comfort in machines, although though this makes it hard to trust others. It’s a problem for me «the T-thing» maybe because of what we do and – yes – work also diminishes worth, but sometimes it’s all I’ve got
«A Day Much Like Any Other»
Digression again, loss of focus. Been here so long that the Q.Cs itself, although the benefit is that malajudants stand out: this improperly fitted case and the oddness of the gap. Most likely diagnosis is that the machine needs readjusting but then who Q.C.s the system? People of course, always people, until that singular day comes and then where will we be? Matter for the future and maybe not in my time, but there are other considerations in life, such as love «another threat to focus». Some will say distractions like these are necessary to get through the day but the only thing truly required is endurance and will «patience and steel» because although the day is long, the day always ends; and the focus will come and the focus will go «and you know I’ve been here so long»
J.L. Bogenschneider has had work featured in a number of print and online journals, including Passages North, Hobart, and Ambit. He has a chapbook forthcoming from Neon Books.
Header Image: Creative Commons, photo by James Thorpe.