So this is a reworking of my last post. I wasn’t stoked on the voice and the P.O.V. I used. So I’ve reworked it here from 1st to 3rd person. I’m not sure it improved it that much. Let me know what you think!
Frank Davis stood in a loading bay with twenty foot roller doors open in front of him. In the distance he watched the afternoon sun fall slowly through cloudless sky. Long shadows crawled across the valley that cradled his home town.
‘I guess that’s it.’ thought Frank. ‘The last hour of the last day of work.’
All of night shift had come in. Floor Teams A and B were rostered to run the lines that final day. The other teams were let go a few weeks back. Frank and the other floor workers stood in an awkward horseshoe around the bright open doors, long gazes taking in every detail as each realized this would be the last time. Jim Bradfield, the General Manager, the management team, all the office staff, came down the metal stairway from the office to the shop floor. They looked out of place – penguins in the desert. Fat Linda from payroll was crying.
Jim stood and gave his final company address while line workers and machinists fingered their high-vis vests and wiped greasy hands on their overalls. The sun set behind him.
‘That melodramatic son of a bitch.’ thought Frank.
It was awkward. Frank just stared over the Managing Director’s shoulder into the distance. He spotted the roof of his high school down the valley.
‘So that’s how far I made it.’ Frank muttered to himself. He clamped down on a frustrated laugh.
Jim said the usual stuff. He said everyone had worked their arses off and there was nothing anyone could have done, that each person could be proud of their contribution. Said he felt like they were all family, that he’d let them all down. Frank tried to choke down the frustration. He didn’t realize his fists were closed tight.
Jim finished his speech and, with a sense of ceremony, hit the stop button on Line 1. It was bullshit. The floor teams had done a full shut down and clean earlier in the day. Frank had been ordered to start it again just so Jim could shut it off. Most of the tooling had already been packed by the engineering team. Wiser and the other engineers had scored an extra two weeks work dismantling and packing the lines. Some of the robots were headed for other plants. There had been rumors the Chinese had come down on a shopping trip a few weeks back.
Whatever was left was headed for scrap.
‘To pay everyone’s last paychecks.’ Frank thought.
Management had promised no one would be left out of pocket. At least that was something. Frank remembered when they shut the auto plant in Stanhope. His brother in law had 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. He tried to work out how long ago that was. Five, maybe six, years ago? It was the same year the bowling alley burnt down.
‘It’s funny what you remember isn’t it?’ Frank choked off another sad laugh.
Line 1 stopped. The pneumatic reservoirs emptied with that rush of air. Frank had loved 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, shuffling their feet, staring at the safety posters on the walls, flipping hard hats through rough hands. The last sound Frank heard from the lines at Thompson & Co. was the sound of packaging rollers running down. The scratch of slowing bearings ran across the concrete floor. The yellow shut-down lights spun one last time.
Frank looked around at the faces. The grease stained blue overalls, the old yellow earmuffs around tanned necks. It was fucking depressing. The same look on every face; All shit-scared. All of them thinking the same thing; ‘What the fuck am I going to do tomorrow?’