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Nothing Sucks Like A Hoover

Posted by LOTGK on October 7, 2007

I used to work at a trucking company called Consolidated Freightways in Cleveland, Ohio. Consolidated just recently declared bankruptcy putting thousands of men and women on the unemployment line. I dedicate this blog post to those who I worked with there in the early 90’S.

In the early 1990’S in my quest for experiencing all of life’s wonders to the fullest, I took a part time position as a dockworker. The actual job description was “Casual” worker. There was nothing casual about this job. It certainly wasn’t the most glamorous of professions one could envision. In fact, at times, it down right sucked. (We’ll get back to the “suck” part in a little bit.) The casual worker was the plankton of the trucking industry food chain while the full timer was the shark, the big cheese, the whopper, the king. The casual worker unloaded trucks all day and all night.

Every one of their trucks was floor-loaded meaning that every piece of freight had to be single handedly picked up and moved from one destination to the next. Sometimes the trucks had several thousand boxes and would take all night to unload. The full timers on the other hand, well, their trucks were all nicely stacked on pallets and shrink-wrapped.

They would get on their forklifts and let the machine do all the work, easily picking up the entire pallet in seconds and then moving it to the outbound destination trailer. The forklift with a little finesse could do just about anything for the full time dockworker, even open and close the truck trailer doors. Some could even pick up money that was lying on the dock floor with the long steel forks that extended from the forklift. I watched, as bets would be placed to unsuspecting casual workers that a quarter could be picked up by the forks. I had already witnessed this grand event so I was not one to be taken that night. Several guys were sucked into the bet. The trick was to lower the forks as low as they would go then tilt them forward and then slowly back up over the quarter. The friction of the forks would make the quarter jump up and back and land right on the forks. This was usually the highlight of the evenings. Anyway, getting back to the story…

I remember my first evening at work. After taking my forklift test and watching my safety training video, I was put out on the floor. We in the professional field of casual workers like to refer to the dock as the “floor.” I was quickly introduced to the rest of the workers in a very informal manner. It went something like, “This is X, he just got hired as a casual, OK, everyone to work.” The floor supervisor handed my assignment to me. It had a time stamped on it that said 8 hours and a destination that said door number 46.

Off to dock door 46 I walked. I broke the seal on the door and lifted the truck door. It was full of Hoover sweepers. Two thousand boxes of sweepers. All the boxes had a nearly impossible to read shipping address on it. I opened my log papers and began to sort the sweepers onto the dock. Each order had several sweepers of each kind and I could see that this would take quite a lot of time.

I guess this was the life of a casual. Sorting Hoovers all night. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, a full time employee drove by on his forklift and as he slowly drove by, he stopped and said, “Nothing sucks like a Hoover huh?” I sort of chuckled and then the next person drove by, and repeated the same sentence. Then another until everyone passed by door #46 and my Hoovers and repeated the same line that nothing sucked like a Hoover. Even the floor managers got in the act and chimed in. It seemed that this was a sort of trial by fire to see if I had what it takes to be a dock worker. Sort of a ritual to indoctrinate the casual.

Well, a month passed and a new employee was hired and I got bumped from the Hoovers to a forklift job. And yes, you guessed it. The new guy got the Hoover assignment at dock door #46. And yes, as I drove by on my forklift I stopped, grinned, and said to the new guy, Nothing sucks like a Hoover…

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One Response to “Nothing Sucks Like A Hoover”

  1. CF declared bankruptcy ? wow, I must have missed that one. They used to have signs with this huge CF on them that lit up at their terminals.

    Too many big companies declaring bankruptcies just to screw over their workers while the big boys pocket millions and walk away rich.

    ( I added your site as one of my favorites on technorati, by-the-by )


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