Wednesday, November 30, 2005
The Capable Man

Last night, I had a long discussion with Michael about...steel mills.

See, when Michael lived in Detroit, he worked in a steel mill in his late teens, early twenties. He described for me the working conditions in the mill. I had no idea.
Michael described machines two to three stories tall, molten metal at temperatures of 3200 degrees Fahrenheit, burn victims, slag deposits, lye explosions, metal balers and a victim pulled into a baler, slowly churned around and around so much that he had to be cut and burnt out of a steel bale. Michael worked as a baler, as well as a machine operator, materials handler, bulldozer-er, and all around steel mill aficionado. He worked in temperatures exceeding any Atlanta summer day, covered in black slag. He described the constant bloody nose he would have, thanks to the lye being breathed into his sinuses. He told me about lifting great pots of steel and driving them with a bulldozer up a hill to dump it into a pit fifty feet deep, banging the fifteen foot tall pot against concrete, creating a cacophony of noise--so much so, he needed to wear heavy-duty ear mufflers. He described a hell on earth, filled with banging noises, hot magma-like steel, black powder, chemicals. This is what he did for a living, making short of fifteen dollars an hour.

When we drive through the industrial parts of our towns, many of us wrinkle our noses at the smells and sights of smoke, blast furnaces, and riff-raff of blue-collar workers. We forget these men put themselves in harm's way everyday and many of them suffer from terminal illnesses. To this day, Michael gets about three nosebleeds a week.

I remind myself as I drive by these huge monstrosities of smoke and terror that the size alone is enough of a testament to the capable man, let alone the byproducts of these factories and mills. The enormous girth of these machines is intimidating and fascinating. Even more so is the knowledge that man built these great beasts of steel and brick. We are an amazing race of dreamers and doers. And as we cook on pots and pans, and admire stainless steel kitchens, and drive past railroad tracks, and sit in safer cars, we should remember those dragons of industry, and how they have brought us our comfortable lives.

And we should remember the men who work the dragons, knights with helmets, burn scars, and bloody noses. These are the men that churn out our comfortable lives.
Written by FRITZ
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Name: Fritz

Location: Detroit Rock City!
Where the weak are killed and eaten

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