Thursday, July 24, 2003

life of buddy don, chaptur 23:
promoshun fer doin rong

lookin back, it dont seem lack much time tall past tween whenever darlene gut on out at the plant and i did, but at the time, seemt lack it lastid ferever. in fack, twuz barly six munths before i got on out at k-25 as a barrier operater wurkin swang shif.

ye probly no whut they meen by swang shif, but ifn ye dont, twurks thisaway. thays three weeks of swang shif the way we dun it at k-25. say the furst week is graveyards. that means ye git to wurk on mundy mornin at midnite, witch to mos folks, that feels a lot more lack sundy nite at midnite. ye wurk yer 8 hours a day fer five days n cum out dun fer the week on fridy mornin at 8 am. then next week ye go in on mundy afternoon at 4 pm n wurk till 12 am, n then ye git a week of days that wurks ye frum mundy mornin at 8 till fridy afternoon at 4. so ye had ye one big weekend n two lil uns.

now i aint permittid to tell ye much bout whut i dun cept in genrul terms on a counta i wuz wurkin in a job that tuck a q clearunts. that mint they sicced the fbi on yer past to deetermin whuther ye could be trustid with gummint secrets bout how thangs is made n all. fack is, dint seem lack i saw much that wuz all that secret, but innybidy gittin past the gate had to have thar q cleared.

whenever i startid awurkin thar, twuz on a counta they wuz a firin the barrier plant up agin. ifn ye no much histry bout how the a bomb wuz bilt, then ye no they dun made oak ridge jes fer that. time wuz when ye couldnt git in or out of the city ifn ye werent cleared. durin the war, they say oak ridge populayshun gut to frum 80,000 to sumwhars round 100,000 folks. then the war endid, n thangs changed at the plant. the barrier part wuz more or less moth balld, n the shifs wuz shrunk down to skelton crews. i wuz one of the secunt roun of three youngns they hired to join the skeltons that wuz dun alreddy thar.

they split us up one per shif, so that mint each shif had yer 20 or so skeltons n yer 2 youngns. they had em a union in thar, name of ocaw, but fer sum reeson, the youngns wernt all invited to join. n i spoze that had sumthin to do with how we dint look lack the skeltons. we had us one white woman name of princess, witch that wernt her reel name but only what the shif forman rogers james callt her n fack is, i dont member her real name. she wuz on our shif n everbidy new she gut speshul treetmint. then i wuz the other youngn on our shif. on the nex shif after ours, they had em a black guy name of hugh williams n a black woman name of aleesha green. tuther shif had em a white guy who had collidge n wuz trainin to be manjer n shorty, witch i dont member ifn he had a real name or not. my crime wuz my beerd n the fack that i wuz a publican.

they invited princess n the white fella with collidge to join the union rite away, even tho they had to wait fer thar three munths to be up. the res of us dint here nuthin till twuz too late, leest in my case. they had em a guy name of jarhed jones a runnin our part of the union, n fack of the matter wuz, he dint cotton to folks havin beerds or black skin or bein publican. he wuz sorta lack that guy in denmurk who wuz holdin his fanger in the dike, only his fanger wernt that big, n purty soon twuz a flood of folks with long har n black skin n mustaches n all kinda thangs jarhed sed wuz the ruinayshun of our cuntry. the only thang i couldnt figger is why he woodnt wont to take our union dues.

seem lack i gut in truble frum the furst day. fer one, jolly roger, witch thats whut everbidy callt the forman behin his back, he put me on the secunt mos borin job they had, witch that wuz the pick-em-up spot, n i reckon he wooda dun lef me thar fer ever ifn i hadnt stirrt up sum truble, witch hes really the one cawzed it. i cant give ye a name fer the post i wuz sined to, but twuz so borin that i larnt how to doot with my eyes closed. twuz assembly line stuff n that mint twuz dedly dull.

i ast roger could i larn sum tother spots sides the pick-em-up spot n he ast me whut wuz rong with the pick-em-up spot n i sed twuz dedly dull n he sed twuz wurk n twernt mint to be innertainin. i allowed he wuz rite on that, but woodnt it be better ifn everbidy new as many of the jobs as possbull? he allowed twood be maybe only why should he give a job to sumbidy that wuz cumplainin? woodnt that jes be rewardin bad behavyer? i give him the point, but i ast him dint he wont folks that could uphold fer theyselves, n kin ye bleev it? he wuz such a flatlander that he dint git the point.

fack is, let me stop here n menshun sumthin bout oak ridge that made it differnt frum everwhar else, n that wuz whenever they startid up that manhattan project, they importid a bunch of folk frum all over the cuntry n frum all over the worl fer that matter. mos of em wuz not hillbillies, witch twuz hillbillies that wuz runnin the place befor they brought in all them other folk. as ye mite have noticed, seems lack ye kin always look down on yer hillbilly n make fun of em, n folks lacks to make thar fun. sum them outside folks in oak ridge lacked to brag bout havin the highest per capituh educayshun level in the worl on a counta all the degrees they gut thar, but that dint mean folks wuz the leest bit smarter or better. they jes lookt down on yer hillbillies n figgert they wuz rite on a counta them degrees. corse, sum them hillbillies gut to braggin bout the same thang even ifn they dint have no degrees thar ownself, but yer flatlanders wuz the wurst.

n jolly roger wuz one of em, a flatlander frum up north in ohio, n he claimt to be a real relijus type, only heres whut he tole me after he made it seem i wuz a doin rong by upholdin fer myself n astin could i larn one them other jobs. he pointid out that a person dint have to be bored a doin that job on a counta they could reed n doot at the same time. he tole me i should ast maddog fer a book.

now maddog wuz a guy name of matluck or sumthin lack that n lack the res of em, he dun been thar since the war n he new ever nook n cranny in the place. he new whar they had em a secret mattress fer takin naps or even doin wurser thangs oncet they had em sum women to do em with, n he new whar a person could hide frum the forman n ye name it, he new it. whenever i finely gut offn that borin pick-em-up spot, i wurkt with maddog fer a bit, n he showed me lots of his secret places.

maddog wuz one who couldnt never have a talk on innythang without sooner or later a'tellin ye bout how he dun had sex with this woman or that'n, n ever last one of em had 'tits out to here,' witch, he wood be holdin his hands out in front of hisself bout three feet n ye new he wuz a lyin. twernt jes now n then, but to here him tellt, he had him a new woman everday. n he wuz a ugly cuss with more wrinkles than one of them sharpee dogs, n he never let his cigret go out n smelt lack it, but that dint stop him frum a'tellin the same lie overn over agin.

so next brake, i ast maddog did he have innythang i could read, n he sed he did, n a lil while after the brake, he brung me a book name of mouth girl. twernt much of a book far as plot n care-acters is concernt, but it did have plenty of deescripshun of one thang, n fack is, twuz nearly as borin as the pick-em-up spot on a counta twuz verr badly writ. taint all such books is bad, but thisn wernt wurth yer time.

i dint cumplain, tho, jes tuck the oppertunty to brang my own books in, n purty soon, thay wuz truble.

see, oncet both darlene n me wuz a'wurkin at carbide, we startid into going to that roane state comunty collidge, n thar we wuz ast to read plenty of books, sum outrite homewurk n sum jes recomendid. i had dun alreddy larnt sum the tricks of the grade game frum darlene, n one thang i new wuz that ifn ye red all the books that a perfesser listed, speshly the ones ye dint have to read, then ye could make a good impreshun whenever ye wrote yer exam. i wuz a'takin a murkin histry class at the time, n they wuz a passle of recommendid books. seem lack jolly roger wuz rite proud of hisself fer gittin me to shut up bout the job, n i wuznt cumplainin neethur.

then sumbidy tole him i dun red a book by bertrun russell callt why i am not a christian. jolly roger pullt me aside after a brake, witch he made maddog take care of the pick-em-ups, n he ast me why wood i read such a book, n that gut us into a discushun bout relijun n the bibl n turnt out i dun red more of it than him n that seem lack it gut me off fer a nite.

then i brought in the nex book on the list, witch that wuz soul on ice by eldrich cleevers , witch he wuz one the ones that startid them black panthurs. this time jolly roger dint wait fer no brake. he cum up with a angry lookin maddog behine him n tole me to cum into his office, witch thats whut he callt the brakeroom, n fack is, twuz empty whenever twernt brake time, n then he used it fer his office so he could do whutever twuz he done besides a'tellin us whar to go n whut to do.

we gut in thar n he tuck the book n made a face. then he ast me wood i wont my sister a'marryin one, n the fack is, he really sed did i wont my sister a'marryin a nigger.

let me stop a secont on that wurd, witch thees days bout the only folks usin it is black folk n yer open racists, witch theys differnt frum yer reglar racists on a counta the reglar ones acks all shockt ifn ye say that wurd, but theys jes as lackly to tell ye that they aint prejudiss jes quote experienced unquote. fack is, fer me to tell this here hole tale, aint no way to pertend i never herd that wurd. twuz verr comunly used durin them years, n aint nobidy figgerd by then they could jes say quote the n wurd unquote n let it go at that.

but in this case, whut he sed wuz did i wont my sister a'marryin a nigger. n that gut me to upholdin myself in a stoopid way, witch i tole him he wuz a racist n that the only thang matterd bout my sister wuz wuther she wuz in luv, n ifn she wuz in luv with a black man, witch that made him mad that i woodnt say nigger, ifn that wuz the one she luvd, then i wood wont her to marry him.

so he tuck me offn the pick-em-up spot n put me on a much more innerestin machine whar ye couldnt possbly read callt the fair ruler, or leest thats howt sounds. n purt soon that led to more truble, n that truble led to me gittin a promoshun.

heres how't happent. the fair ruler dun jes whut ye mite speck, witch wuz put furls on the same thangs we wuz a'pickin up a the pick-em-up spot. ye dont need to no more'n that to git the point. ye wood lode one end with the thangs n they wood go thru n whenever they cum out, thay wuz a furl on eethur end of em. they wuz a counter on the machine, n that led to competishun twixt me and aleesha green.

furst nite i wuz a wurkin this spot wuz a tuff nite. mos innythang wood make the fair ruler quit, n ye had to keep a sharp eye out fer problems n ifn ye dun rite, ye wood meet the quota fer the nite, witch that wuz 4,000 units. my furst nite i hit 3,900 or so, n folks wuz impresst.

then nex nite i cum in n take a gander at the logs n thar i see that aleesha green dun hit over 5,000 units. so the race wuz on. i larnt that machine frontards n backards, n gut so i could see whar truble wuz a brewin befor it could stop the wurks, n purty soon i wuz able to beat aleesha green. then she wood beat me. n i wood beat her. n long story short, we gut up over 9,000 units.

i dont ritely member who won on a counta jarhed tuck me aside n splaint thangs to me. sed he, 'this here machines been a'makin 4,000 units a shif fer near thirty years, n we aint had the furst cumplaint. now we gut a problem on a counta frank aiken thanks we should raze the quota.' i sed sumthin stoopid lack why shouldnt we since ye could easy make more'n 4,000. n he splaint bout how manjmint wuz always trine to take advantidge n ye couldnt let em raze quotas or they wood till twood be near impossbull to meet em. ye could lose cuntrol thataway.

i tole him i unnerstood whut he wuz a sayin but that seem lack the job wuz more innerestin ifn ye were trine to git the numbers up. n he splaint how twuz wurk n twernt spozed to be innerestin. n he tole me he dun spoke with jolly roger, who agreed i should move to the nex stayshun, witch i wonted to larn more, but seemt lack we wuz loosin a importint point. he wood not agree. then i sed, so ye a'gone let thar shif beat ourn?

n he kindly stept back n then went to read the logs n then he tole me i could finish the week n then he sed he wuznt a'gone let me loose out to no nigger n he speckted i wood 'beat her at her own game.' lack i say, i dont member who won, but as i recolleck it, aleesha dint roll over n play ded.

then next week wuz day shif n here cum jolly roger a grinnin lack a jack o lantern. he tole me frank aiken wonted to see me in his offus. that wuz bad news, or so i specktid, but twenrt. he tole me he wuz mitey impresst by my wurk n he unnerstood howt mus be ruff a'wurkin in a place that made ye wonta slow down, n i add mitted it. so then he ast me did i wonta larn how to program cumputers, n i wuz kindly shockt. wuz he suggestin i go skool n find a nuther job? but he lafft n sed they dun tuck apptitood tests on me n new i wuz a logickul type n had math skills, witch i dint no it till then, n they wonted to teech me bout cumputers n all. n he ast did i wonta doot, n i sed why not?

n thats how i gut a promoshun fer doin rong.

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