Been Taking This All For Granted

Posted: January 9, 2009 in The Roper Files
Tags: , ,
Undergoing a weird feeling today; a combination of pleasure with a slight bit of guilt in there. Today is Friday; day number one of my weekly three-day weekend. I work four ten-hour shifts and today is the non-monetary payoff. Woke up with a brief moment of panic; “what time is it?” Then realizing it was Friday: “Who cares?” Nice to roll back over and pull my heavy wool blanket over my shoulder.

Just resumed my forty-hour ordeal of work after having eighteen days off for Christmas and New Years and yes I did get just a little teensy-weentsy spoiled having all that time off. Getting up Monday morning and fixing that bologna sandwich for lunch wasn’t easy to say the least. But I did it and I’m glad I did. Several people didn’t make it back Monday morning; I proved myself to be one of the dependable ones. Showed up and gave ’em dey moneys worth like the good white Uncle Tom I am.

Which is leading up to all of this; Friday morning. Most people are getting up, rushing around the house (“Where’s my blue pants?”) Not me.
Got up and made a tasty blend of two thirds Tullys House Blend beans and one third Tim Hortons coffee. Trust me on this one dear readers; it’s a delicious combination.
My brother and his wife gave me these funky “coffee spoons” They’re plastic spoons covered with flavored chocolate; just dunked an amaretto one into a cup. How decadent.

Had a tune going through my head and dug out an old vinyl 45 from my extensive collection and put it on my frequently contrary turntable. “Come on baby, we can do this one more time” I sweet-talk to her and manually turn the 12-inch disc with one finger. The record starts to spin; success!
Love and Rockets “Kundalini Express” roars from my Twin Towering speakers and fills my chilly empty living room with a warm blast of bass, drums and heavily distorted guitar. Ah…this is what good weekends are all about.

But as I sit here sipping my delicious cup of coffee and listening to the comforting Noize I’m having somewhat of a moral dilemma. I’m feeling a little guilty about my ability to do just this. Let me explain:

Somewhere in another country far far away a man is painfully digging with bloody fingers through a pile of rubble that only moments before was his home. As he digs through dirt, broken mortar, shredded glass, metal and wood with his bare hands he  listens to the sounds of his dying wife and children.

In another country far far away another man shakes his head as he surveys a large crater where his livestock were grazing just a few minutes ago.

Just across a large body of water from there women and children are screaming and running down a road after being sprayed with white phosphorus from a cluster bomb.

None of these people were victims of a car bomber, or a someone with C4 strapped to their bodies. They were just at the wrong place at the wrong time; I’m pretty sure they were just going about their day-to-day business. Just like me sitting here sipping my amaretto-flavored coffee no doubt when the shit hit the fan in a moments notice. “Moments notice”; now there’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one.
In a situation like that, there is no notice.

BOOM! When the roof caves in and the walls collapse suddenly; naw, not much notice there.
Eeeeeeeeeee………….BOOM! When your livestock suddenly disappear in a cloud of dust and then come raining down on you in bloody chunks…….not much notice there either.
When you’re standing in front of a blackboard teaching math to a schoolroom full of children and then suddenly….sssssssss ….BOOM! All of sudden you’re up to your waist in debris and amputated arms, legs and severed heads.  Precisely how much notice would you need for this? More than a moments perhaps?

None of these people had anything to do with 9/11. None of them could expect Bin Ladin to return their phone calls even if they knew his number. They were just going about the business of their day-to-day lives when they became the recipients of a US-manufactured weapon.

Where do I fit into this picture? Twenty years ago next month I started working at a manufacturing plant my father operated that made parts for oil well equipment. One of our biggest clients at the time was a plant in Dallas that made those motorized lights you see at concerts. We would make the housing for the lights and when someone like the Who or the Rolling Stones toured, I would work overtime. Those roadies break a lot of lights when they’re moving equipment around the country.

Ten years ago my father retired. He sold the plant to some right-wing hawk who told customers for whom my father had been making parts for years to go piss up a rope. We’re going aerospace and we don’t need your business anymore. Then we started making parts for nobody except military contractors whose names I would see on  or Michael Moore’s movies. Now 95% of our business is dependent on the War On Terror lasting forever or until the money runs out whichever happens first.

I know, I know. Shouldn’t write about work on the Web. I should be grateful to be employed ( and I am but….) However I have issues….
Don’t really care much for being part of the War Machine. The Military Industrial Complex Eisenhower attempted to warn us about has come to pass and yet there is not a peep, not a ripple of protest.
Next month marks my twentieth year at this plant. Since my boss knows my politics if any mention or notice of this is made I might get a cake (not holding my breath here) Or a Wal Mart gift card for some token amount. Whatever it is I’m sure it won’t amount to much or help vanquish the guilt I feel when I get on the Web and see uncensored pictures and video of what’s really going on in Iraq and the Gaza strip over the last week. I don’t like knowing something I made is a piece of the puzzle that paints a horrible picture I see on

But there’s the dilemma of What Can I Do? I’ve got rent to pay and this computer doesn’t run on God’s goodwill. Both the electric company and my Internet provider are constantly standing around rubbing their thumbs and first two fingers at my direction at the first of every month. Not to mention the gas company, the water department and all the rest of those assholes waiting for me and my paycheck. Gotta do something.

And it’s not even as simple as getting another job; defense is pretty much the bread-and-butter in my area. I’m surrounded by L3, Vought, Lockheed-Martin, Bell Helicopter; you get the picture. Not much else in this area and I don’t have anything except 20 years (and then some) experience doing what I’m doing. 

Anyone out there who pays a living wage making something that doesn’t kill people want to train a 50-year-old guy? Okay, single-file; not all of you at once now…..

Look at me; forced into the subservient role of blue-collar moron. Shut up and cash your paltry check.
So I sit and I feel guilty about being a part of it all. Drink my coffee, sit and type here at my desk.
Try not to think about it too hard or I hear a mothers cry in the wind. Or was that the brakes on the Fedex truck?
Never mind….


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