on failed transfigurations...
The baby pictured died ten days after the bomb was dropped.
Foregoing my usual tradition to have clams on my birthday this year as it is just too damn hot. Worked this morning in the furnace for my two bags of peanuts and the thrill of watching my masters' pockets get lined with more gold. Had a long talk with Andrew though. He is one of the few who still works full time there. It's a shit job but chances are it's his only shot at a $15 an hour job. He's around 50 now and told me he would stay at the shop until his first heart attack or stroke. But after that he would be done, unlike those "crazy sonsabitches here" who stay on after heart attacks or strokes. Then again, his idea of "done" involves getting some state aid that, from the looks of things now, is likely not going to be around when he needs it. Andrew has been a useful mule to his masters - a steady worker over decades in filthy, brutally hot, dangerous environs. They've cut his pay, his benefits, the number of days off a year, and more, but the thing that still irks him the most is the thing he used to always bring up back when I was foreman - the years he had to work in the spray room and the company wouldn't buy him a mask. That was before OSHA had us put the big vents in the spray room we have now and have sprayers wear a certain mask (this came about after OSHA got an "anonymous" phone call -- fortunately this came after a pathetic and disgruntled worker had been fired -- the wrongly assumed culprit -- so there was not the usual witch hunt). His lungs are now shit because of those unmasked, unvented spraying years, Andrew says. They can take his money but they shouldn't have taken his lungs, he says. But then a shrug and he laughs about it. We talked a bit about when the shop had its best chance to go union. Hindsight's 20/20, as they say.
When I first started working at the shop years ago and found myself stationed at a workbench next to Andrew, Andrew noted that I had a "Bible name" (I go by my first name at work, the middle name Owen is used by family and friends). "You have a Bible name, so God will protect you here," Andrew said, "You'll need it." I later learned that among his siblings (those sharing his father, a killer who himself was killed after fathering a score of children from a pentangle of women), those with Bible names had managed to stay alive and sane. I've worked with two of Andrew's brothers and met a couple more, and the talisman seems to be as effective as Andrew suggests.