Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Flawed Legacy - 30

This gets rather confusing to me - at my age perhaps, but after spending almost three weeks on the road, moving and storing furniture, I caught a ride back to Charlotte where I was always able to find a bed at the YMCA and a number of churches to help me make up my mind on Sunday mornings.

As usual, I headed for the Labor office and got back on at Coca Cola, running that new product test line which apparently, no one else wanted to deal with it.  There was a lot of "down" time which I enjoyed and I could always find something to keep my busy. Obviously, I was doing a good job as they asked me to fill out a job application.

Then, one Friday night as I was in the Labor office looking for my check, a guy comes in looking for someone to work over the weekend.  Sounded good to me and I found myself on the way to Greenville, SC, where we were going to re-finish some floors under some knitting machines.  We would be there for the next three weekends as there was only so much area we could cover on the weekend and the floors needed to be dry on Monday morning.  It was a good job.  We started by serrating the floors to get all the "gunk" off of them, then vacuuming up the debris, washing them with acid and finally applying an epoxy coating.  It was a routine, work hard for several minutes, take a break and rest, vacuuming which was rather easy, washing with acid was a bit treacherous and then, spreading the epoxy evenly across the area.  By Sunday morning early, we were headed home.

We would come back to that location for three weekends in a row and then onto another location.  The manufacturer of the epoxy kept us bust most of the time.  One week, we were in Louisiana, the next week in Central Florida, another weekend in Miami.

I enjoyed doing this work, the guys I worked for were easy going and generous with the time cards, so I was making about the same on a weekend as if I had worked all week in a factory closer to home. There was one bad experience.  Acid is rough on your shoes, so I typically wore rubber boots and then one day I saw an ad for "tough" work shoes and was assured that they would withstand the acid.  So much for their claim.  I could feel my left foot getting warm so I convinced myself it was just a small leak and everything would be OK.  As a matter of fact, it felt like it was getting better as the weekend continued.  Then, I took my shoes off.   It looked like the left side of my foot was akin to a dressed chicken.  It was whiter than white and where the skin was broken, I thought I could see a bone.  My little toe and its "neighbor" looked as bad.   We stopped at a grocery store and I bought two jars of vaseline, filled my sock with it and slid my foot inside.  They dropped me off at the hospital when we got back to Charlotte and the look of my foot made the attending nurse throw up.  The student doctor who first saw my foot thought they might need to amputate it.  No way.  It didn't hurt.  I was going to watch it heal.  They wrapped my foot in a bandage leaving the toes outside and I walked back to the "Y".  It really did not hurt.  It never did.  Within a week, the healing was significant.  I could wear a slipper and by the following weekend, I was back at work.  It was a good thing that we weren't using acid that week.  I wore rubber boots and all I had to do was wash the floors with a soap concentrate.

I worked with those guys - and a few odd trips with my moving "buddies" and then I met a guy who was bored by a meeting we both were attending.  It was in a fancy house and I happened to see someone smoking on the porch.  Turns out it was my soon-to-be new friend who had come to the meeting only because his wife had insisted.  

The speaker was a man from India who was talking about how Christianity had turned him away from his previous life as a Hindu.  My concern was that he was turning what I believed to be Christianity into another version of the Hindi religion.  My new friend was not quite so kind.  When there was a break in the lecture, they offered us drinks and when he ordered a beer, I knew immediately that I liked the guy.  We would become very good friends.

He had amassed a small fortune buying and selling steel mills across Mid-America and now that his wife seemed to becoming quite ill, he decided to retire and they had they moved to the Gulf Coast of Florida.  He was curious as to why I had attended the meeting, alone.  My interest was because I had heard of the speaker in Sunday School at the Presbyterian church.  i decided to see for myself as one of the unanswered questions in my life had to do with death, was there actually a heaven or a Hell?  That really got us into a conversation and by the time the meeting was over, he was asking his wife if she minded if they took me to their home for a month or so.  I almost fell out of my chair.

He was serious and offered me $2,000/month to come live with them so that we might really search for answers to the questions we both seemed to have an interest.  The money seemed to be a really good idea to me and it sure beat, working for a living.

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