And that was it. The last hour of the last day of work. I wish you’d been there. Jim Bradfield and the other management guys, all the office staff, came down to the shop floor. Talk about out of place; they looked like penguins in the fucking desert. You remember Linda from Payroll? Yeah fat Linda. She was there, crying. 

All the night shift guys came in. Floor Teams A and B ran the lines on the last day. The other teams were let go a few weeks back. There were a few others I didn’t recognise.

Jim said a few words in front of the loading bay. The roller door open as the sun set behind him. That melodramatic son of a bitch. Said the usual stuff I guess. He said we’d all worked our arses off and there was nothing we could do. That we could all be proud. Said he felt like we were family, that he’d let us all down. It was awkward. I just stared over his shoulder into the distance. Did you know you can see our high school from the factory? Yeah I know, that’s how far we made it.

Did you know you can see our high school from the factory? Yeah I know, that’s how far we made it.

Jim finished his speech and hit the stop button on Line 1. It was bullshit. We’d done a full shut down and clean earlier in the day. We only started it again so Jim could shut it down. Most of the tooling had already been packed by the engineering team. Wiser and the other engineers scored an extra two weeks work dismantling and packing the lines. Some of the robots are headed for other plants. I heard a few rumors the Chinese came down on a shopping trip a few weeks back. I heard that from Bob though. He’s a fucking racist. He’d tell you the Chinese were stealing his job and fucking his wife if he thought you’d listen. The rest is headed for scrap. They’ll probably use that money to pay our last paychecks. They say we won’t be out of pocket. That’s better than others have had it. You remember when they shut the auto plant in Stanhope? Amy’s brother worked there. Those guys got nothing. No last paycheck, no benefits, no payout. The liquidators just came in one day with security guards, told everyone to leave and chained the gates closed. That was like, five years ago now. It was the same year the bowling alley burnt down. It’s funny what you remember isn’t it?

So line 1 stopped. The pneumatic reservoirs emptied with that rush of air. I used to love that sound. It meant the end of a shift. The robots came to a rest. The conveyor belts slid into a stop. Everyone just stood there, looking at their feet, looking at the walls, fingering their vest or flipping their hard hats. The last sound I heard was packaging rollers running down. The scratch of slowing bearings ran across the concrete floor. The yellow shut-down lights spun one last time.

The last sound I heard was packaging rollers running down. The scratch of slowing bearings ran across the concrete floor. The yellow shut-down lights spun one last time.

I looked around at the faces. The grease stained high-vis vests, the old yellow earmuffs around tanned necks. You should have seen it. It was fucking depressing. I’ve never seen anything like it. The same look on every face. All shit-scared, every single one of them. All thinking the same thing; ‘What the fuck am I going to do tomorrow?’

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