October 19th, 2021
I took our ten month old grandson, Asher, to my former workplace a couple weeks ago. It had been at least a year since I my last visit to the trucking company. I only went there because one of my previous co-workers wanted to meet the little boy. I had no other reason to return to that place. I feel no nostalgia for it.
I held Asher in my arms as I walked across the parking lot, like I had done a thousand times before. The physical plant looked the same. The tractors and trailers were as I remembered them. There was the same dirt and grime on the overhead dock doors. I felt the same old Sith energy radiating from the place.
I was a dock supervisor at the company for nearly twenty-eight years before I retired. I worked third shift for most of those years. The dock was, and still is, unheated and mostly open to the elements. I worked in the heat and in extreme cold. Most of the time I worked when it was dark. The job could be dangerous. I was run over by a forklift twelve years ago. My right foot and ankle were crushed by the weight of the jeep. I left that corporation with scars.
I don’t miss working there. The work environment was toxic, and sadly I helped to make it so. People were treated as commodities by the company. It was always about profit all the time. Working for that business was corrosive to my soul. My body was not the only thing damaged by my experiences on the dock.
I took Asher into the office to meet Jen. She was delighted to meet the lad. Asher was happy to see her too. Asher loves to meet new people. I didn’t see many others that I knew or remembered. The company has always had an extremely high turn over rate. I left there six years ago, so it’s no surprise that I couldn’t recognize many of the faces. The place was full of strangers, and it made me feel even less welcome than I had expected.
Things have changed there, for the worse.
When I retired it was a big deal, not just for me, but for the other folks working at the company. Whenever anybody retired, the company bought a big sheet cake and gave the lucky winner an award of sorts. Everybody who was in the building came to witness the event. A retirement was one of the very few times that people came together as a team.
Now that doesn’t happen any more. There is no party for retirees. There is no recognition of their years of service to the corporation. People just disappear. I guess it makes sense. The worker did not matter to the company when they were on the clock. Why should anybody care when they leave?
One of my old dockworkers was in the break room when Asher and I arrived. The man’s nickname is “Kung Fu”. He has eyes that remind people of “Kung Fu Panda”. When he saw Asher, his face broke into a grin. Kung Fu said,
“Wow, look at him! He’s such a happy little guy!”
I replied, “Of course, he’s happy. He doesn’t work here.”