Fork You

July 15, 2008 at 3:36 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  Stop me if you’ve heard this–
  A few of the jobs I’ve had no longer exist.  Did you know that?  I couldn’t look up information for Majik Market anymore, it’s not there.  Neither, too, does Henry’s exist any longer.  I worked there twice.  As I’ve stated before, I’m a glutton for punishment.
  Henry’s was a family owned truck company.  Bill Henry ran it, his sister did accounting, and his dad was a diesel mechanic.  And Bill’s wife, Cathy, was the company’s psychic.  To me, she would have been the perfect woman to fuck:  she was older, she looked good, she was rich, obviously neglected because Bill was a workaholic, and she was nutty as my ball sac.
  My dad worked there as one of the elites:  he was a Georgia driver.  Henry’s exclusive business was to go down to Georgia to the carpet mills, pick up, bring it back here, and then redistribute to the carpet retailers in the bistate (and eventually three- and four- state) area.
  He got me a job in the warehouse when I quit Domino’s–I was out of work for about two days.  The trucks came in from Georgia, and we unloaded them, and warehoused them.  Then they would set up the loads on their respective routes–southern Illinois, Chicago run, KC, Southern MO, Northern MO.  Also city and Metro runs as well.
  It was fun.  Usually we worked in a two-man team, one spotter and one loader.  On second shift we did more loading than unloading.  We’d get a clipboard, in order of the route, and work from the bottom up.  The spotter would find the rolls, and the loader would….you guessed it–load them.  On our shift we me, Mike and Mike, and Jerry.  Hell I remember their last names.  Mike T, Mike S, and Jerry B. 
  These were great guys.  Mike T was a slick Italian playa, but a nice guy.  Mike S had one arm–lost it in a hunting accident.  But he had a hook and could operate a fork lift.  One of the best you’ll see.  Jerry B was older than us (we were all in our twenties, but I was the youngest), probably in his mid-forties…
  Where I am now.  I remember a conversation I had with him then that has meaning for me now, in the ironic sense.  As usual, we were talking about sex.  I said, "Well, since you’re old now, you’re not interested in it any more, right?  Did you give it up?"
  First he scoffs.  "Shit!"  Then, "I may not fuck as much as I used to, but I fuck more and better and than I ever did, and I enjoy it more."
  "Really?"  I doubted him–I was 20, banging a 40-year-old.  To me at the time, it didn’t get any better than that.
  Jerry B  was married, been married for a long time.  He was a tall, skinny dude with a beard, missing a tooth and finger.  He said he hardly fucked his wife any more, because she was such a bitch.  He was seeing a few ladies on the side.  Little Mike T was going out with a chick in the office.  Oh, she was smokin hot.  Carla.  Bottle blonde, tight jeans, excellent cleavage.  And she was sweet as pie.  What a sweetheart she was.  Mike T called into the office, and had her come out to the warehouse one day.  She came out and said, "What?"
  "Show him."
  She smiled, turned to me, and opened her mouth.  Then she proceeded to flick her tongue from side to side–turning it over each time–incredibly fast.  Incredibly fast.  My jaw dropped open.  I might have been in love.
  Carla worked during the day, so we didn’t see her much.  On second shift, there was one girl in the office, Phyllis.  She was a black woman, very nice.  She lived in a bad, bad ghetto, which I didn’t know until I went to her house to buy drugs from her husband.  But anyway she had a stutter.  I mocked her a few times about it–
  And she got back at me.  I stopped doing it.  Sorry, Phyllis.
  The other Mike, Mike S –he was a good guy.  I did a favor for him.  Now, this was about 85 or 86.  He had studied and he was prepared, but he had test anxiety.  And he was about to take his GED.  He paid me to take it instead.  Yeah.  I’m one of the very few people that has a high school diploma that has taken a GED also.  I was only a year or two out of high school, and still intermittently going to college.
  They check for ID when you go in.  He gave me his wallet with his driver’s license in it.  I’m tall, and big, and have brown hair.  Mike is shorter, average build.  With blond hair.  They asked for ID and I quickly produce it without hesitation–I figured that was the key, and looked around with my upper lip drawn in, trying to capture his look.
  They let me in, and I took the test for him.  He passed.  Not only that, but he was in the top ten percent.  He paid me twenty bucks and a bag of weed.  Today that would have been…fifty bucks and a bag of weed.  About a hundred dollars.  I was confident that he could have passed, that’s why I did it for him.  He was just nervous.  I hope he doesn’t regret it–or if he does, I hope he gets closure.
  But the reason I even bring this up is because I was thinking about how I got fired from there.  I actually worked there twice, and got fired both times.  If they had stayed in business long enough, they would have had the chance to hire me and fire me again.
  We unloaded trucks, like I said, but on our shift we mostly loaded them.  So for a given truck, say 709, we would have a clipboard, filled with tickets.  Each ticket was an order, and could be one roll or it could be twenty rolls.  Each roll listed individually, with a roll number on a big tag that you could see from twenty feet up on a rack in the warehouse.
  So the accuracy relied on two things:  The spotter spotting the right rolls, checking them, and marking them off.  And the driver picking up the right roll.  But it was all in the spotter’s hands, and we even had a stamp and then eventually tickets printed with a place to put the inititals of the spotter and the driver.
  This was required because sometimes rolls would be missing, or the wrong roll would be on the truck–which was the same thing:  the right roll was missing.  Everyone would miss a roll now and then, but it seemed like I was always missing the more than anyone else. 
  Drivers would get pissed when the roll wasn’t on their truck, because they would have to deal with the customer.  Then both of them would come back to Bill Henry, and he would come back to me.
  Shit rolls downhill.
  The funny thing was, however, that I was working alot of hours–maybe 70 per week.  He didn’t pay me shit so overtime was no problem.  But when I worked 16 hours on Monday, I did it by myself.  And I did load a few trucks by myself during that shift.  Usually the two or three straight trucks for the daily city run, the Lowie truck, and a couple of Outer Metros.  I would have to spot and load them myself.
  I never had any mistakes on those.  Never.
  So, I don’t know why I had mistakes working with the guys.  Were they doing it on purpose?  Was I careless with people around?  I don’t know.  But it got to be too much, and Bill fired me.
  After my first brief stint at Domino’s, I went back.  I was a little older, married, with a baby.  More responsible.  Dad said they’d take me back, and I talked to Bill.  He said subject to a drug test, I was hired. 
  Well, I was sure I would pass the drug test,  At that point I had been clean for a at least a year.  So, how long had it been?  I was fired the first time in 86, because that’s when I went to Domino’s.  This was now….89?  Yeah.  About three years had passed.
  Upon my return, things are different.  We’ve expanded, and moved from this crappy old warehouse to one a couple of blocks away.  The offices were still at the old one.  It was a nice warehouse that we were leasing from a big grocery store chain.  I started on third shift.
  This worked out pretty well because The Storm had just started working again after our son was born.  I got off at 7am, she went in at 8.  I drove home, turned over the car.  I took care of the kid, and then went to sleep when she got home.  It was a rough six months.  Because yeah, that’s how long I lasted. 
  It was in this place that I got one of my favorite lines that I still use to excess to this day.  On third, there was four of us, and a supervisor, and old guy named Vick.  I was still the youngest at 24, but the rest were around 30.  We all had Walkmans or whathaveyou that we listened to while we worked.  We had a sign language and code that we used to communicate.  One set of AA batteries would last me a week of practically non-stop play.  I had a radio/tape player.
  Man, this could eplain why I’m mostly deaf right now.
  Anyway, one night I was on the Yale (the favorite forklift), backing out of a trailer.  Vick stood clear, then came up and tapped me.  I looked at him.  I was wearing my headphones.  I had it turned down, but he wouldn’t know that.  He started telling me, "When you get done with this, put 5812 in that door down there, we need to unload the pad into the nose of 417."
  I heard him, but for all he knows, with the headphones on I heard him say, "Listen you sonofabitch, I know my daughter is a whore in a trailer, but that’s no excuse for you to fuck her in the nose for 17 dollars."
  I ripped off my headphones and said, "What did you call me?"
  He shook his head and walked away.
  We needed still more space, and moved the warehouse to a shitty, shitty part of town to an old Famous and Barr warehouse.  For you young kids, that’s an old department store chain.  This was a vast, giant warehouse.  No need to stack stuff up high.  We had acres of floor space to run wide open with the fork trucks.
  Now again, this was an old, run down fucking place.  Still, new house, new rules.  Anyone damaging anything with a fork truck would be fired.  Guess what happened?
  I was backing out of a trailer, not watching behind me.  It’s more Feng shui that way;  I find it soothing to not know what’s going on behind me.  Anyway, I ran into a support I-beam.  I did it with the wheels turned, so it was actually a wheel that hit it, and broke a tie-rod on the fork truck.  The pole itself was not damaged–that item is important to my defense.
  Well, I knew I was fucked.  We parked the fork lift.  I worked the rest of the night, not saying a word about it.  The next night I came in, and Vick was right there waiting for me, to greet me.  And fire me.  I recall now that I wrote about this before–because I’m sure I wrote about how when I came home and told Linda what happened, I was upset and crying and in need of comfort.  She got up and went downstairs.  She said, "I can’t be here right now.  I have to go think.  I need to be alone."
  Yeah, cause me getting fired is all about her.  Fucking cunt.

  How much of this did I tell before?  I swear.  I write this stuff down so I don’t have to remember it.  But if I don’t remember it, am I doomed to repeat it, and write it down again?
  So now, many years later, Henry’s is no longer in business.  Majik Market is gone, of course.  Scooters is over.  The only places that remain are the big chains that I worked for, Papa John’s and Steak n Shake.  And currently Domino’s.
  The reason I went down this memory lane is because I was thinking about…what would I do if I get laid off or fired?  I could get fired; that is an all-to-real possibility sometimes.  Laid off, too–I work in the extremely volatile mortgage industry, and I’m on the bottom rung.
  You should always have a back up plan.

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