Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Nice Wheels

As soon as I moved back home after my sophomore year I bought my first car. I purchased a two-seat Italian sports car. Don’t get too excited—it was used and cost $400. Still, $400 was a lot of money to me back then (still is, actually) and the car was pretty cool. Well, at least it looked good, the engine ran well, and it got 40 mpg. That last part was important because gas was over 35 cents per gallon and I was frugal. OK, cheap. What you couldn’t see at first glance was that this crate was rusting away-- a victim of a few Midwest winters and tons and tons of rock salt spread on the roads. Yes, that fine Italian steel was looking more like Swiss cheese in places not easily spied. But I didn’t care about that—it looked fuckin' cool.

Going back to work in the chemical plant was something I looked forward to. It was hot, tough and dirty but it was a good workout after months of college. Made me tan, lean and sinewy… or, maybe just a skinny twerp. If you were there perhaps you’d have an opinion—I was there and I don’t. Spending a lot of time gazing into the mirror isn't nearly as much fun as looking at women. I learned that early on in life I suppose.
It was good to see some old friends from the prior summer including my ol’ bud Tim. Tim and I couldn’t get together after work though since his girlfriend (and future wife) was still best friends with Jackie but we hung out at lunch, and the union-negotiated coffee breaks and were still friends despite the whole girlfriend debacle bullshit. We just avoided the subject of women. Which, as I recall, meant we talked a lot about sports.

There was, however, one big change that summer at the plant. The college student summer hiring program now included-- girls! It seems that company workers who were the parents of female college students wanted their dear daughters to get in on these relatively high-paying summer jobs. Of course not many of the young ladies themselves wanted anything to do with working in a dangerous, dirty chemical plant but apparently a half dozen or so did. Most of the “veterans” were kind of torn on this change. First, we assumed they wouldn’t be required to do any of the jobs that were nasty and dirty or anything that required heavy lifting. But, secondly, a couple of them were babes.
So we figured it just might work out OK.

The two more, ahem, interesting young ladies who joined our hardhat crew were Tina and Sharon. Tina was an olive skinned, Italian beauty of about 5’2” who didn’t take any crap from anybody. She was fun to work with the few times I was assigned to spend a shift with her cleaning out tanks, grading stone, or other fun things. Sharon was a bit more, um, delicate. I figured the only reason she was there was because her dad headed up the HR department for the plant and wanted her to set a good example on the equal opportunity front. She wasn’t particularly well suited to carrying an air wrench around that tipped the scales at half her weight. So, working a shift out in the plant with Sharon was usually like doing double the work. Then again, working with Sharon had some positive features.

Yes. It wasn’t all bad.

Sometime around the second week of August summer got pretty interesting.