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Tales from a small town

Short stories about life in a small town. Non-fiction. Great reading.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Revolution in the air? Probably not this time.

"Hey Dave, take a look at this."

Tim plops a magazine down on the table beside the stamping press. They're both greatful the table is still there. XYZ, the company they work for, has institued a new program. It has an acronym, just like all the other screw-ball programs that have come before it, over the years. Each one just keeps getting stupider and stupider. This particular program's purpose, is to call anything that doesn't create a value-added movement to a part, "contraband."

If a table doesn't create a value-added movement, it's gone; or at least that's what the program says. Dave and Tim can remember when there used to be a refrigerator in their work area. Not any more. The refrigerator isn't a value-added component. Now, they have to buy their lunch in the cafeteria, instead of bringing their own food in from home.

The food from the cafeteria sucks. Not only that, it's much more expensive to eat in the cafeteria, than it is to pack your lunch. Just another example of how the cost of things keeps going up, whether you like it or not.

We all have our theories. I have mine. I think XYZ knows the factory is moving to Mexico. They have the workers' best interests in mind while implementing the "contraband" plan. The way I see it, they want to de-humanize the place so much, that we won't miss our jobs, one iota, when it eventually moves. They're looking out for us. This used to be a good place to work.

Dave picks up the magazine, hurriedly flipping through it. He stops on a page in the middle. Something caught his eye.

I'm looking over Dave's shoulder, out of curiosity. These guys never talk about smut, so what could the magazine be about? Curiosity gets the better of me, as I adjust my position to get a better look over Dave's shoulder.

On the page Dave is looking at, there are grainy, black and white photos of men in snowsuits, laying down in the snow, firing rifles. I look down at the captions. They're in Russian!

Dave turns the page. It's a classified section with pictures, much like the car magazines we buy in gas stations and convenience stores. Only this time, the pictures aren't of cars: they're guns.

Tim walks anxiously over. Dave's shaking his head.

Dave: "What the fuck are these silly letters?"

"Russian is more of a Slavic-based alphabet - you're used to our Roman-based alphabet. They're similar, with just a few differences. It's not that hard, really."

Dave and Tim's eyes start scanning the same columns, their eyes going up and down in unison. Tim gets excited and points his finger on the page. "There! That's the one I was telling you about. I've done the currency conversions. This is a great deal, even if you do have to pay international shipping and handling. I'll tell 'ya: we could buy twenty of these and make about a thousand bucks. Everyone will want one. How many people do you know who subscribe to this catalogue?"

Tim's right hand is now over his right shoulder, with his thumb pointing down at his right back pocket, which is holding a rolled up catalogue. "This is the Chinese shit I was telling you about. They make 'em cheap over there. Wait'll I show you. There's a fortune to be made."

Dave's eyes get big in anticipation. "Seems like, if XYZ can make money off of foreign trade, why can't we?"

Tim nods in approval: "Now you're gettting the picture."