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On June 16th, the Many Shades blog will be closed.
The authors thank you for your readership and hope you will come visit them at their personal sites via the links to the left.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Daughter of a Shop Rat

I am the daughter of a shop rat. As I was growing up, everyday, my father would lace up his grease splattered work boots, pick up his black plastic lunch box, and put in hours of hard labor at the local auto-plant. And I mean hard, back-breaking, mind-numbing labor. For years before he built up his seniority, my father toiled on the assembly line.

Picture, if you will, having to do the same task again and again for endless hours. That may seem easy at first. But as your hands got tired from the repetitive movements, your body ached from the jarring of heavy machinery and the work started to pile up despite all your desperate efforts to keep up, it could become your own personal hell. I remember my father coming home, his face lined with fatigue, his gait stiff because of sore muscles and his hands stained with grease from the machinery. Most of all, I remember the smell. It was a strange mixture of sweat, oil, gasoline, and smoke. I grew to associate that smell with Dad and to this day whenever I smell it I can’t help but smile.

No matter how much pain he was in, or how tired he may be, Dad always had a smile for my sister and me. In that black lunch box he carried every day were two items. The first was a little plastic monkey my sister had slipped in as a gift. The second was a sticker of the Trix Rabbit that I had stuck on the side as a private joke between the two of us.

My dad isn’t the only shop rat in our town, in fact our community is dominated by factory workers. We all drive American cars and supported the union. One of the proudest moments of my young life was seeing the picture of Dad on the front page of the paper. He was holding a picket sign and was huddled around a burn barrel with some of his fellow workers. To this day, whenever I drive by a picket line, I am compelled to tap my horn to show my support.

So you can imagine how the present news of the Big Three being in trouble is heavy not only on my mind, but everyone in the state of Michigan. Now, I’m not going to get political or suggest how we can turn around this whole mess because, quite frankly, I have no idea how we can fix everything. All I am trying to do by writing this is to remind everyone that at the bottom of all these big corporation and the execs that run them are hard-working men and women, like my dad.

I just hope that something is done soon for their sakes.

-Stephani Hecht


Lynn Crain said...

Yes, there is economic upheavel right now and unfortunately, it's going to be here for a while. It usually takes about 2 years for a market to right itself.

BUT I so agree that we can't let businesses flounder who have been around so long. That would indicate to the world that business can only last a certain time before they go by the way side. This to me is not a good thing.


Stephani Hecht said...

Thanks, Lynn. My dad has been working at that shop for 36 years and now he is looking at maybe losing his pension. It is so dismal in Michigan right now.

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