During one of my recent weekend performances as a human metronome,
as I trudged on my familiar route along the freight train tracks;
I came upon an old rock quarry where I had worked a summer during high school.
It brought back some wonderful memories spent as a youth.
This had been my first introduction into the world of ‘adult work’ for ‘adult pay’;
It was quite removed from my prior work experiences in my family’s meat business;
For there, in the family business, very little was expected of me,
and, I was only too glad to oblige by meeting those low expectations.
But here at the rock quarry, where the grizzled construction men, and the wannabe boys,
worked side-by-side excavating deep gorges, filled with mounds of sand, dirt, limestone and solid rock;
I was soon to learn,
that very much was expected and demanded of me in very conceivable manner.
For, it was here that young boys came to become strong and sturdy men;
there was no time for relaxation while on the clock; deadlines, timelines,
and infinitesimal measured quantities of production were monitored
by countless men wearing hardhats, goggles and leather gloves,
smiling with that sick, sadistic look with unfiltered cigarettes dangling
from their dust covered faces and mouths.
They intermittently barked out orders, instructions or abusive verbal rants;
sleights meant to motivate, denigrate and humiliate not only one’s dignity;
but also one’s family, relatives, friends and an entire generation of long-haired youth;
who were more often than not referred to as ‘Nancy’s’;
or even worse- female body parts; desired and coveted by one and all.
This assortment of men and boys worked long, hot summer hour’s side-by-side,
barely acknowledging one another, as the days inexorably and slowly wound down;
just another work week in a summer of long, hard work weeks.
As Friday arrived and mid-afternoon approached,
there would be a relief that spread amongst this wizened group of life and work-weary veterans.
For, on most every Friday, the ‘Quarry Foreman’ would show up with five cases of beer for those who wished to imbibe,
both boys and men.
It was at this point of the day and week, when distinctions seemed to evaporate,
in the haze of cigarette smoke, laughter and loud belches from some really cold beer;
for a brief moment boys had become men- at least for the rest of that day.
Say a prayer for the working man!