blue collar prose


Seems work has been busy lately. One day folds into another and I lose myself trying to figure out what day comes next.
But this is life, I guess.
This is life on life’s terms.

After a full week on the job, I woke early yesterday morning at the sound of my alarm clock, and I wiped the sleep from my face. I noticed the sunrise is earlier now. By 4:30 the sun was already on its way, and by 4:35 I was on my way to work.
I stepped from my front door, down the steps, and then into my car.
At this point, my body is in automatic—I know where to go and which way to turn. I know what roads to take from my simple Long Island town and how to end up in the city that never sleeps.
I have made this trip more times than I could figure, so I trust in my inner autopilot, and I move on.

My thoughts were almost suspended in hibernation as I drove and turned left on Seventh. By the time I made the right onto Newbridge Road, the machine in my head took over, and the radio was just like noise in the background.
I turned left on Hempstead Turnpike. I passed the bus stop in front of Chase bank, passed the homeless man wandering near CVS Pharmacy, passed the McDonald’s on my right and passed the traffic signal beginning Prospect Avenue on my left.
I drove by the tall building at Nassau County Medical Center, which I think is called Nu-Health now, but I grew up calling it the Medical Center, so the name Nu-Health means nothing to me.
I passed the stores on my right and the Home Depot on my left. Heading west, I noticed the color of sunrise reflected on the only tall glass buildings in my town. It was originally known as EAB Plaza, but the property has been bought and sold, so now the tall office buildings are just a side piece to the edge of a town known as East Meadow.

I could feel the sleep still in me.
I wished for my bed, but my wishes would not come true.
Driving along the Meadowbrook Parkway, passed the energy plant near Zeckendorf Boulevard, I looked over at plant’s cooling towers and its white mist that lifted to the sky. I remembered when its original smoke stack was demolished. They blew the original stack with dynamite and crumbled it to the ground.
Man, that was decades ago…

By the time I made it to work, Saturday was officially underway. As part of my responsibilities, I had bathroom detail, which meant that I had to change all the batteries in every women’s room.
This meant all the automatic faucets and soap dispensers, including the automatic flush handles, because in our germ conscious world, people do not like to touch anything in the bathroom, so the bathrooms at work are all hands free and automated.
Hands free sinks, hands free soap dispenser, hands free flushometers to flush the toilets, but no hands free paper towel dispensers, at least, not yet.
They really need to come up with a hands free door knob, because in my experience as a building engineer and in building maintenance, I find people often leave the restroom without washing their hands.

I changed approximately 420 D batteries and 420 C batteries yesterday, making that 840 batteries in total . After this, I switched to the refrigeration side of my job. I filled the condenser water system in the ceiling on the 19th floor, which is currently under construction.
Then I replaced the missing ceiling tiles near the elevator reception.
I waited for the pipe fitters to finish their day, and after 14 hours on the job, I washed my hands and face. I washed the ceiling tile dust from my hair, changed my close, punched my card, and then I went home.

At this point, my body was in automatic. I left through the rear entrance, walked outside the loading dock gate, and then I sat in my car.
I turned on the air conditioning and the radio was like noise in the background. Again, my body knew which way to go so I trusted my inner machine to take me under the Midtown Tunnel, out through the Queens side, passed the Long Island Expressway, and back home to my simple town on Long Island.

By the time I returned home, the sky was almost the same as when I left. Only now, instead of rising in the east, the sun was setting in the west.
A purple hue tucked into the underbelly of the clouds and the color of sunset reflected off the light-tan bricks on the 19 story hospital, which I will always refer to as the Nassau County Medical Center.
Near the end of my trip, and by the time I turned right onto Seventh, my body was done. I felt the pain in my lower back from crouching underneath bathroom countertops. My knees hurt from kneeling on hard tiled floors, and my skin itched from the remnants of ceiling tile dust, which made it down into the inside collar of my shirt, and irritated my skin..

As I write to you, I am back where I started yesterday. I write to you from a small locker room with light green walls and a light green tiled floor. The quietness here is the sort that makes your ears ring. But this is where I earn my living, and in a short while, that silence will be replaced with pipe-threading machines and the sound of wrenches clanging on sprinkler pipes.
By the time I finish my day, the sky will look exactly as it did when I left my house this morning. Only, instead of the sun rising in the east it will be sinking in the west.

I don’t mind the work or the long hours. After all, this is life on life’s terms. I suppose I will be able to feed my family this week. I suppose I might be able to pay the mortgage, and the electric company too. Maybe I can buy an extra plate of food this week….and that’s a good thing.

I suppose I could think of better ways to spend my mornings during the sunrise. Say, like maybe standing on the beaches at Montauk Point, or on the rock piles where the Atlantic Ocean meets Jones Inlet.

I have dreams, but I suppose some of my dreams will have to wait for now. It seems now is not my time. It’s not my turn to relax; it’s my turn to work and feed my family.
By the end of the day, my hands will be toughened from another shift on the job. By the end, I will be tired and not just tired from work, but tired from listening to the sound of machines and less-educated men arguing about the better ways to get over on their boss. And why do they argue about their boss? Because the boss is an idiot, that’s why.
He’s the man in the suit and tie.
He’s the one telling everybody what to do, even though he has no idea how to do it himself.

The boss is an idiot. He’s a jackass.
He doesn’t know what he’s doing and he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
But right now, the boss is home enjoying his family….
And guys like us are here on the job, calling him stupid, and saying, “He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Perhaps now is not my turn to enjoy my Sunday. But it will be soon.
Soon enough, I will be home.
And soon enough, I will be standing on the rock piles where the ocean meets Jones Inlet

Enjoy your morning, folks.



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