Friday, March 28, 2008


If you examine man on a basic, primitive scale, someplace where there is a sharp contrast in the division of labor, you will find that there are three classes of men. I call them Backs, Technicians, and Generalists. Since there is a stud order in men, it is given that most times all men start out their working careers as Backs. You could call it an apprenticeship. I remember the old sawmill. When you came to work in that mill you started stacking boards and cants and ties. We had no power rollers so every thing that moved down the dead rollers had to be moved by hand. You pushed it or it didn't go anywhere. When you stacked it you made damn sure the bundle sides stayed straight and the ends stayed even. Hard work. When you got a break you sat down and rested your bones.

The slabs from the headsaw and the edger strips from the edger all had to be put in the slab cart by hand. And you didn't fool around about doing it because the next slab and edger strips were coming along right behind it. Time to boogie! When the slab cart got full you pushed it by hand out to where the forklift could get to it and pick up the contents of the cart full of unsellable wood and hauled it off. Then you pushed that cart back into the mill by hand and started filling it again. Such were the duties of a Back in the old mill. The Backs were also prone to skip out on other jobs during work hours because they had to clean the Mill and other things. Everybody wants to be a specialist.

The Technicians in the mill had the jobs that made the money, that included the operating of machinery and the inspection of the lumber. The Technicians had to work fairly close with each other. The money depended on it. In a smaller type of Mill the Sawyer is the main boss. He controls the rate of production. If the lumber is not being cut properly then he has to fix the problem. And believe me, there are problems in sawing lumber. The Sawyer has so mnay variables in his work equation that I will not bother to try and name all of them. It's an easy job for the most part, until something starts to go wrong. And like I was telling you, there are so many things that can go wrong it's impossible to write them all down.

I remember when we up-graded our Mill and I went to the live chains right in the production line to grade and tally the lumber. We built a little platform so that I could walk the length of the boards looking for defects and such. If the lumber started going bad I had to tell the Sawyer to stop and fix problem. And sometimes he didn't want to fix the problem. He wanted to sit in his booth and just saw away and let the problems be handled by someone else. Can't say as I blame him, but the problem had to get solved or a lot of miscut lumber was going down the drain.

The Edgerman was an important cog in the production wheel. If he started taking too much off the sides of the board you had lots of money going out on that edger cart. Everything had to work together to make the Mill profitable.

If the Backs weren't cooperating in the harmony of production, there were little things that could be done to punish them. I remember one day when I was running the forklift while we ere running Poplar. Poplar cuts like hot butter. It is strictly Hammer Down. You always made sure you had a full crew ehen you ran Poplar. But we had run most of the day with the crew not really enthusiastic about making money. So when the Sawye had shut donw for a few minutes to sharpen his saw, I went in and had a little talk with him. I had saved a bunch of perfect, cylindrical logs, 20" in diameter and larger. It was a little before shut-down time and the Sawyer had a good sharp saw and these perfect logs. People were a little tired. But the Sawyer got to those perfect logs and really started cranking out the lumber. The lumber was flowing like water over Niagera Falls. And when one perfect log was done it was immediately replaced by another. It was hilarious. Those boys weren't working, they were just trying to stay alive! When the Mill shut down there were boards and slabs and edger strips all over the place. One small victory of the brain over the body. The Backs will getcha most everyday to some extent, but once in a while God lets the Brain put it on 'em. And it is sweet.

The last category of person in our little group is the Generalist. This is a eerson who by years of expeience and wisdom becomes the natural leader of a group. They generally start out in a lowly position and go from there. They are noted for their timeliness. They aren't late for work and they don't miss work. They shoulder their load and complain very little. But pretty soon they know all the jobs and all the positions. They can do the technical things, though maybe not all of them, and they have done the grunt work. They know how to get along with men and keep rebellion down. They are fair and forgiving. They are more like a good father than a boss. They have played all the keys on the piano: the high keys of the technical man and the middle keys of the Backs. They can also play the Bass keys and set the pace of production. A Generalist can spot a trait in a man that tells him where that man ought to be working.

These three groups play the role of people trying to make a living working together. The Back, the Techie and the Generalist. And you might not know who you are dealing with during your years of labor in the camp. A new guy comes in and he might seem lost at first and not know what to do. Give him a chance. He may turn out to be the biggest money maker of all.

Now I want to ask you to make a little stretch right here. Instead of calling these men Backs and Technicians and Generalists could we not superimpose the words Beast, Man, and Priest on them? A Beast is not necessarily a crude belligerant but the term can also describe a neophyte, a rank beginner, an untrained individual. David, King of Israel, once said "I was as a beast before him." This is a man who was King but he had been in the presence of a being who was so advanced that David felt like a mere beast in his presence. And David confessed it.

The term Man is next. Is a man someone who knows how to make a living? Is a man someone who knows how to live with the people around him? Does a man have a wife and children? Does a man take his place with other men in the community for counsel on important matters? Does a man know how to bui;ld a home for his family and maybe even his friends? The title of man denotes a person of some skills and abilities, not necessarily the apparatus that hangs between his legs. And that man is also a beast, because he started out as a beast, and he will go fight for his family and friends and countrymen. This is all part of being a man.

The last title we will deal with is that of Priest. This is the guy who can hold it all together. This is the guy who can explain what to do according to the will of God. This is the guy who can heal the sick. This is the guy who can marry couples in the sight of God. This is the guy who can Baptise you. This is the guy who can go before God and get a word to help the people.

And as we look at these three types of behavior, are we not looking at God himself? For does it not say in the scriptures that God is power and love and a sound mind? Has he not slain millions? Has he not orderized the universe? And does it not say that god is love? Does God have the same attributes as man only on a more powerful scale? Work it backwards. Where did the drives and characteristics in man come from? Who was their author? Who put them in the germ plasm for all to experience? Being in the realm of Beast and Man and Priest may not be such a bad deal after all.

I'll sign off for now. Keep your peace and stay alive.



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