Factory Tails — Short Story Three
by Barbara Anne Helberg
The Dartmouth truck sat next to the huge concrete bay, while its driver, Rocky, a huge black and white male Newfoundland, dramatically paced before the black plastic drapery that kept a cold, sweeping December wind from penetrating the factory’s innards. Big Blackie Biscuit and Specialty Items, Inc. of Northwest Ohio, the U.S.A.’s main dog food, biscuit, and tag and chain factory, was warm inside, as always, Rocky noted.
He gave a great shake of warmth as he watched two Golden Retrievers (G.R.s) with square, red tags scurry from the shipping office. Rocky lit a cigarette. Smoking inside was against plant regulations, but no dog gave him any resistance.
There were blue triangular tags on the necks of two Great Danes (G.D.s) who observed the mechanics of a monster green and yellow ram press situated near the center of the plant’s truck receiving wing.
The press being closely observed was the infamous T-Bone Express biscuit maker. It was as tall as a ten-story doghouse with tonnage of over 600 and a driving ram force that could wipe out a large brick doghouse in a single stroke. All the truck drivers knew about the T-Boner. It produced an incredibly delicate “T” dog biscuit by cookie cutter principle. Eight cutouts were shaped per single stroke of the T-Boner’s ram. Orders for the tasty Glazed T-Bone Biscuit boasted of having fifty trucks always in transportation mode just to deliver the T-Bones in countryside areas north, south, east, and west.
Quality and production problems frequently revolved around the T-Bone Express, for its sheer size and power and its ram stroke prolificity caused maintenance nightmares. The T-Bone area was in constant uproar. Quality of product versus production numbers prompted head-on collisions between the quality control department and the production number supervisors.
Glazing the T-Bone Biscuit before, or after, cutouts constituted a major argument among maintenance, quality, and production heads. Opinions crashed, heads butted heads, over prolificity of ram stroke, quality of product, and production numbers, in an attempt to fill vast orders. The argument over pre-glazing, or post-glazing, ultimately was left unsettled as first shift pressies were told to run one way and second shift opinion changed the run. The quality department remained stumped, and engineers stayed at the drawing boards. Production chiefs sweated blood on and on for higher numbers, and plant management screamed at them to produce more, more, more!
Rocky smiled as he held out a paw toward Red, the G.R. shipping supervisor, who had beelined to him as he sent Oscar, the other G.R. he’d been talking with, toward the T-Boner.
“Hello, Rocky,” Red grinned. He gripped Rocky’s paw, but, knowing the Newfie’s crushing strength, quickly released. “Still the fastest driver in the west, aren’t you now?”
“Guess so,” answered the soft-spoken Newf. Drivers were told to drive fast, Rocky thought. He guessed a shipping chief was motivated to move rapidly, as well.
“We’ll have you loaded and out of here in half an hour,” Red claimed.
Red was trotting off even before Rocky could nod.
Busy, but a good dog, Rocky thought. Soon, he’d be back out in the cold, but in 48 hours, Red’s warm and bustling shipping department would welcome him again. Keep’em rolling, Rocky thought as he pulled his jacket closer around his shoulders.
Story and Artwork from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg