Friday, June 28, 2013

This Is What The End Looks Like

The speed level seemed to be changing. When did I take my foot off the gas? When did I stop paying attention to where I was and how fast I was going, enough to take my foot off the pedal without knowing it? Swinging my head from side to side, I'm trying to take in my surroundings and wondering how did I get two blocks from Lowe Street and not know it.

The minute I cranked up my truck and began to pull out, the wave of loneliness swept over me. I left the back parking lot and rounded the corner and there they all were, all the guys from the shop. Standing in a huddle. Looking as if they couldn't decide when they wanted to take that first step. The walk to their own vehicles and the unknown. I quickly looked away. I had already had enough of that today. Hugs and tears. And loneliness.

The company put on a lunch for everyone. Charles Colston, our Grill Master, did his always mighty fine job of smoking a gazillion leg quarters, and Piggly Wiggly was our caterer for the rest of the meal that consisted of baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad and a cake. As I walked in the break room, I saw some of the girls, behind the tables, ready to serve, including our Plant Superintendent's wife Lari Davis.I could feel the unsteadiness in my legs begin.

Now let me take a minute to tell you a little bit about this cake. It was made by an employee of Piggly Wiggly here in Quincy. We have all of our worker lunches done by their Deli/Bakery Department as well as all of our cakes. But this particular cake was not made by just any employee.

When I started to work at Quincy Joist in 1993 there was a man named Dan Laracuda. Dan the Man they called him. Dan worked with us forever it seemed, even into partial retirement. He would work each year until he had used all the hours available in accordance with his Social Security benefits. Dan passed away several years ago, but his memory has remained hard-fast and strong for many. Today his granddaughter Jackie, who works at Piggly Wiggly, made the final cake for the final workers lunch at Quincy Joist Company. How fitting was that I ask you?

Before we ate our meal, our Plant Superintendent Phil Davis, addressed his workers, his teammates with a few words of thanks and inspiration. There was already someone waiting in the wings to give our prayer, but someone else interrupted to address Phil with an acknowledgment of his own. Acknowledgement for his kindness, his loyalty, his caring for their group, even given the short time he has been with us. Phil Davis did not arrive until late Fall of 2012, but he immediately took those guys under his wing, incorporated long overdue training, brought the influences of a higher power in his daily talks, and whatever he pledged, he delivered. It had been a long time, if ever, since those fella's received that kind of one on one treatment and today Phil was told just how much they appreciated him as well.

I cried during Phil's speech, cried during the speech for him given by Kevin Jones, and I cried during the prayer done as eloquently as any I have ever heard, by William Shiver.  My eyes were full of water for several minutes afterward, Phil and Lari's grandchildren sitting in front of me were a blur, and people were already gathering to get in line for food, while I was still sitting at the table dabbing my eyes.

Some office employees during this last week had brought their children in with them to spend the day.  Today was no different. One of our Engineers, Marlon Hill, brought his son to work with him, bringing a little joy and life back to the building.

But even he at the end of the day, had already had all he could take. And as I came around the corner and saw him napping, in one of the most conventional ways possible given we had no beds for him to lie on, I thought to myself, this is what the last few moments of "everything is really over" looks like. Devon Hill exemplified what the last day looked like without speaking or saying a word.

1 comment:

  1. I wish I had a magic wand and could just wish away all our hardships and heartaches. But then I guess we wouldn't be living would we? It would just be a fairytale... <3