59 / 365 – Provider


The union has that trailer out in the parking lot. They are going to make a last stand. I think that’s what they think. They want more money, of course. They want more time off. They want paid time off if they have a baby. They want to make it easier to get overtime even if they don’t work. They want a lot of stuff. They always have an angle on trying to get more, even while they do less. They sit across the table in the conference room and they list what they want — new stuff on almost every page.

Well, get in line. Everybody wants something these days. Everybody thinks someone else can give the little bit extra, or that they can take a little extra. Well, get in line. Because everyone else in the plant, especially the people in the front office, thinks the union must be getting a better deal. So they want stuff too. They want us to pay for the coffee again, bring back the cafeteria. It’s all about them. They forget that this factory is here to make money. It’s not my factory, it’s the shareholders. And if they keep fleecing them, the place won’t make any money and then the company will decide to shut it down. Long time ago they built this factory here because farmboys worked harder than the union guys out east, in Ohio and Illinois. And then the union came here. And they fought for more stuff, had strikes, all of that, and — look — now there aren’t even any factories any more. Now they’re going to do it again here. They haven’t learned anything.

I go home, and I get it there, too. Pam wants to redo the kitchen. Christine thinks we need new furniture in the living room, for when she comes to visit. Finn wants me to let him farm the farm. Sure, I can provide anything, line right up, everybody.

What I feel like doing, most days any more, is shutting down the plant — I’d probably get a big bonus — and selling the house, the farm, and going down to Florida. It doesn’t need to be extravagant. Some little place by a golf course and by the water. Even though I’ve never lived around water, except a little lake in Wisconsin, I keep thinking about it lately. A big flat lake somewhere in Florida. I’ve never lived where it’s warm, either, but here it is March and the days are getting longer and you start thinking about summer, about warm days. I always think about flying south for a vacation this time of year, and I never do it. I should. I never do it because I have to keep working, just to keep everybody satisfied.

When I was growing up my father said I’d never be successful at anything. I’d never be able to provide for a family. Nothing was ever good enough for him, certainly not me. He’s long gone, but sometimes I wish he could come back and see how it’s turned out. I provide pretty well, I think. My children have gotten good college educations, at least the children didn’t go and get themselves killed. My plant is providing a lot of jobs, helping the town survive. You get good at providing and people forget how much work it is, how much savvy it takes. They have no idea, they just come with their hand out.


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