"Whatever your hand finds to do…"

Once upon a time I worked at “United Manufacturing” in Kilgore (Texas), an oil-field “metal fabrication” company, as a welder and pipe-fitter…

Hard, dirty, grueling work. Long hours and thankless wages. I had to be there by seven in the morning (at the latest) and I did not leave until five in the afternoon (at the earliest). Luncheon over the Noontide hour was the only respite of one`s tasks.

In addition to this, the temperatures inside the “hangar” were always ten to twenty degrees hotter than outside, which was especially difficult in the sultry Summers of the East Texas woodlands. To say nothing of the fact that we were using fire to bend iron and steel, crafting order and precise machinery out of raw material. Gritty shards of iron splinters. Glowing red-hot embers of molten steel. Heat upon heat. Blinding sweat. Grinding and burning metal.

The industry of metal fabrication requires both brute physical strength and a sharp attention to details; there is always a lot going on and an exceedingly tight schedule to keep. Work of this nature leaves little room for conniving contrivance or effeminate backbiting. In fact, I do not ever remember hearing a single word of gossip during my time there nor remember any strains of political maneuverings. It was only the work that mattered; the rest of it was left for those of idle minds. We were men with a job to do.

At the end of each day, I would always hesitate to cast a lingering glance back into the shadows of the grimy warehouse… flooded with such a feeling of satisfaction at the fruits of a constructive day`s work.

O, how I miss it.

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