Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Strong as Gravity: Christmas Is Coming

It's mid-October, 2015, and week ago a promise was made here not to mention religion - for at least another week. Well, week's up, and Christmas is coming, at least at a card store in Texas. In the back, behind the showroom and below the two-story shelving racks, crates of cute cards and pallets of other pleasant stuff of placid wisdoms and useful activity are arriving by the truckload. Above the unopened boxes filling the floor, the manager is balancing herself on the top shelf at second-story level, leaning over without the slightest hint of fear, arms open, waiting to have one of the part-time clerks pitch up the first of the lightest boxes from the cardboard bazaar below.

Iraq kicked into consciousness, once again. The manager's balancing act was clearly an improper yet admirable civilian effort to secure the floor from becoming the likeness of a wartime TOC (Tactical Operations Center) being primed in its infancy for operational support of an important upcoming strategic mission.

More to the point though, the image was disturbing because in a former lifetime I had once worn the hat of a proud union elevator constructor for 10 years. Gravity I know well. The subject is embedded in the physical psyche of anyone who in the course of a day's work might have the duty to walk an H-beam at 80 feet, chain-fall wrapped tightly over his shoulder, and lanyard securely attached to his waist, the target being an attachment point 12 feet down the beam, where ladder then meets worker who promptly ascends to the final destination 8 feet above, where it is wrestled off the shoulder and attached to the overhead. The whole of it, of course, is made possible by the human conveyance thus described.

It is in the recollection of such memories that I am fond to recall similar times when, more than once, my sturdy Catholic coworkers, who also worked often at elevated levels, and who, when challenged to go forth with similar daily missions, would observe a quick moment of silence accompanied by the total absence of body movement other than to self-cross properly before embarking. The rest was considered not much more than the mundane activity of a day in the life of an elevator constructor; of this, but not so much of Christmas, I speak with great affirmation as a SME (subject matter expert).

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