I’ve returned to Twin Oaks, but it is not the same – one of our Titans has left us. Jason spent 10 years in working in the tofu business. He did much of that time as management, but he did all of that time on the floor – the hot, sweaty work of actually turning beans into curbs into blocks of tofu.
He was one of our few triple threats, which means he could honcho kettle, trays and pack – the three main production jobs. He trained on everything in that hut, including things few others even knew about. I would come in shortly after 6 AM and he had been there for hours. Everything was set up for me. All during his shift he would run around to the other workstations, making sure that everything was running, smashing bottlenecks as they tried to pop up. He played the kettle like a violin and the hut was his symphony. No one has worked harder, longer or smarter on tofu in my tenure. he is missed.
He had other talents. He took over the Jone Paul Jones basketball court floor installations and removals. Continuing a good money gig for the community and the members.
One day Jason will return. But the kettle will be gone. Jason (and others) own work on upgrades our tofu production is eliminating this position. Many years ago, Jason and i did the “John Henry” shift, were we were racing the machines like John Henry did the railroad making machines. With a little luck the most difficult part of our production day and this machine race will vanish in the next few months.
My life has followed a significantly different trajectory than most people would have guessed in times passed. And if you had said “He will grommet hammocks for a living.” Most people who knew me would have just laughed.
This is actually my second stint at grommeting. I did it perhaps 10 years ago, but that was before we had the guide and laser. The guide puts marks on the bed at about the right places and the laser (when properly aligned) hits the marks when the grommet machine is positioned correctly. A job that i was poor at because it required estimation and was mistake expensive, has become much easier. And i have yet to spend a dozen hours at this new occupation and i might well be replaced by a more dedicated operator. And it is curious and desirable to be part of an assembly line process for a small part of my work week.