Monday, October 05, 2015

When Flour Attacks


I fought a 2000 lb. Sack of flour.


I'm not a violent man, so I don't generally go looking for trouble, but trouble found me one day while the wife and I worked at a flour mill.

At first, it was a normal work day back in a time when life was simpler and we were dirt poor. I was enjoying the simple pleasures of the latest odd job; I was getting to wear a hair net and pack bags of corn meal into boxes. It was fun and exciting watching the colorful corn meal bags take the exciting slide down from the packaging machines to me and my wife's waiting, loving hands as we gingerly packed them away, patted their cute little baggy tops and wished them a happy journey and a healthy life.



Incidentally, this was the first time I had ever seen the additional “beard net” accessory. It was on the face of one of the supervisors. It looked like he was wearing chin panties. (Refer to Fig A.) The gentleman I observed didn't seem to mind all the extra netting wrapped around his head which I knew would have driven me crazy, possibly causing me to throw myself into one of the machines and ending up in some poor families' pancakes. But that wasn't what happened.


Instead, after we finished packing the corn meal the line shut down and the “chin panty” man rounded up all the temporary employees and lined us up. Other supervisors came and assessed us as we stood there. You could feel their eyes upon your body as they tried to ascertain your abilities for whatever tasks they needed to be done. People were herded off in one direction or another and I saw my wife whisked off to some unknown location in the flour mill. Where she went, I didn't know. Would I see her again? Maybe. But there are no guarantees in life.

I stopped considering her fate and tried to stay focused as I was selected and went off in the opposite direction. The man laughed in my general direction and said something vague. I don't remember what it was exactly, but he took me into a concrete room that was directly under the main silo. In the middle of the chamber was an enormous white bag hanging from 2 great straps under a chute. It was partially full of material and swayed gently. He told me it was full of flour.


I had never seen such a great whopping bag of flour such as this, and as interesting as that was, it was what happened next that surprised me. He told me to push the bag.

“Really? You want me to push the bag?” I said making sure I heard him correctly.

“Yes give it a shove.” he replied.
I gave it a shove. It swayed a little. “Harder!” said the man. “Really push it!” So I shoved it harder, putting more of my body into it. It swayed a little more than the last time.

“Again!” he commanded. I could tell he was starting to be disappointed that he chose me to accompany him as my third attempt looked about as ineffectual as the others.


“Why am I doing this again?” I asked. He explained that we had to pack in 2000 lbs. Of the flour into the bag before they shipped it and to make the flour fit, you had to make it settle down into the bag apparently by abusing it physically and not just verbally.

He suggested this was a great way to relieve stress. I secretly didn't agree with him. I was certain it would not relieve anything, let alone stress. Feeling like I didn't have a choice, I threw myself into my work (literally). I hurled myself at this obstinate thing to try to get it to succumb to my will.

At first I had a hard time getting motivated to beat on the enormous sack. After all, it hadn't insulted my mother nor had it pulled a weapon on me. It didn't seem to be harming anyone, it just hung there, dangling. But as I tried to work it over I became more and more frustrated with it. My attitude changed and my resolve to defeat it grew.

I tried leaping on it and I tried different pushing techniques that I had seen athletes and expectant mothers perform. I tried putting the 160 pounds of my body behind every violent shove. I kept repeating my various attacks until my wrists started to ache. But I kept pushing on it and it started to sway more and more. At times I would not time my attacks correctly with the swinging and I would collide with it and nearly get flattened.


But I never went down. I wouldn’t give it or the supervisor the satisfaction of seeing me give sway to the enemy. And my persevering finally paid off. I eventually started to wear it down and the flour settled down into the bag, but as it did, the mill man would add more flour and encourage more violence. He kept watch on the digital readout that was placed on part of the scale apparatus waiting for it to reach the goal weight.

I grew tired but I kept fighting. I inwardly groaned as each new addition never seem to put it over the desired conclusion. I concentrated and lost track of time and finally the happy moment came. I heard the man say “Stop, that's enough.” and I saw the magic number on the readout and without any fanfare, it was over.


My breathing was heavy, my limbs were tired and I felt like I had just wrestled a giant's scrotum. But it was over and thankfully, so was the work day. So I turned in my hair net, found my wife and drove us home. As I reminisced on what had happened I realized that although technically I had beat the enormous bag of flour and achieved my goal, I knew in my heart that it had truly defeated me, because I never wanted to go back for a rematch.


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