It would take me a long time to explain the whole movie, but there’s this scene in the movie Stranger Than Fiction (which is a “must see” if you’re an author; the logline reads “An I.R.S. auditor suddenly finds himself the subject of narration only he can hear: narration that begins to affect his entire life, from his work, to his love-interest, to his death.”) where Will Ferrell (who plays the IRS auditor), smitten with Maggie Gyllenhaal (the love interest), brings her a present.
So you can imagine what I thought of immediately when I saw today’s prompt, “flower/flour.”
I’ve mentioned before on the blog that, soon after graduating from college, I took a job as a production supervisor at Newly Weds Foods. Newly Weds had started as a company that made consumer products (English muffins and the cake for ice cream cake rolls), but gradually got into the business of making coatings (breaders and batter mixes) for chicken and fish, panko-style bread crumbs (Newly Weds was one of the first companies in the US to make them), and was just getting started in the seasoning mix and capsicum businesses. In fact, they’ve now farmed out the muffin and cake businesses to smaller companies in Chicago and have plants all over the country now.
I was the supervisor on the #2 Breading line, who they figured would have enough free time on his hands to handle other tasks, such as being the guy who would deal with deliveries of bulk flour. Several times a day a driver would show up with a bulk truck full of flour, and the supervisor on Line 2 would decide where the flour would go, either into one of several silos outside or into one of the four tanks inside the building, and would then be responsible for going to the flour house and hooking up a hose that went between where the driver hooked up and the appropriate tank or silo. The driver then hooked his truck up and blew the flour from his truck into the tank. Easy-peasy, right?
Right around Christmas, I was working day shift, which ran from 6 AM to 3 PM. I hadn’t been able to sleep for a couple of weeks and was popping No-Doz and washing it down with coffee to try and stay awake. I was upset because there was word that we’d have to work on Christmas, something I’m sure Jesus and Mary (my wife, not the Blessed Mother) would understand, but I’m just as sure my mother wouldn’t. A load of flour came in at 10 AM, and I hooked the truck up and gave the driver a thumbs-up.
About half an hour after that truck leaves, I’m doing a product changeover. We would be switching flour from 55 ash to 40 ash (the lower the ash content, the softer the flour), which meant I’d have a guy dumping flour into a hopper from 100 lb. bags instead of drawing from one of the tanks, which was a real pain in the ass, because it also meant I’d be on the forklift for the rest of the shift, getting pallets of flour out of the warehouse to keep my guy busy. Anyway, the changeover requires my full attention, so of course another bulk truck shows up.
I look at the bill of lading, and see that it’s the same kind of flour the last guy had brought. I knew the tank was only half-full after the last load had been delivered, and I figured everything was all set for the guy, so I told him to hook up his truck and blow when ready.
You know what happened, right? Turns out one of the other supervisors told one of his guys to sweep up the flour house, and that guy detached the hose…
I didn’t get in too much trouble, surprisingly enough. I got chewed out by my boss and the president of the company (who was a real hands-on guy), but they didn’t fire me, nor did they make me pay for the 40,000 pounds of flour (I think they were able to salvage most of it). I had learned my lesson, and when the new year arrived I started looking for a new job.
Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now a word about Pepto-Bismol tablets. Quick as a wink, you’re in the pink with Pepto-Bismol tablets!