July 23, 2010

"Floor boss slides up to me and he says/Hey sister, you're just movin too fast..."

"You're screwin' up the quota/You're doin your piece work too fast/Now you get off your mustang, Sally/You ain't goin' nowhere, you ain't goin' nowhere/I lay back. I get my nerve up. I take a swig of Romilar/And walk up to hot shit Dot Hook and I say/Hey, hey sister, it don't matter whether I do labor fast or slow/There's always more labor after/She's real Catholic, see. She fingers her cross and she says/There's one reason. There's one reason/You do it my way or I push your face in/We knee you in the john if you don't get off your mustang, Sally/If you don't shake it up baby. Shake it up, baby/Twist & shout. Oh, would I could get a radio here..."

Just an old song that last post got me thinking about. Is it relevant? Patti Smith sings/speaks of working too fast and getting told to slow down. Yes, it's relevant: Workers have an interest in keeping the work pace comfortable. That's in the song and in the story about the Italian workers. I bought that Patti Smith record the day it came out, June 5, 1974. I had a job. Not in a piss factory inspecting pipe. In a market research firm, coding magazines. And we had a radio. We listened to music and followed the news of the day, and the big story was Patty Hearst. "Miss Hearst is Now Tania, But How and Why?" read the NYT headline 10 days before that record came out. "Piss Factory" was the B-side, and the A-side, "Hey Joe" was Patti's effort at answering that question about Patty. We were doing our work pretty slow — there wasn't enough work to fill up the day — and listening to the radio. We heard the new song, the A-side, and spun out all our theories about Patti/Tania. Listening to the radio, reading magazines, filling up the time elaborating about it all....

Life is different now. But not completely different.

17 comments:

Jeeves said...

This is an excellent description of blogging and how it relates to productivity.

Fred4Pres said...

Isn't Patty Smith in Wisconsin or Michigan raising some kids now?

You have to move fast if you have kids.

Fred4Pres said...

Excuse me Patti. My bad.

DADvocate said...

I work in a market research firm now, programming surveys for the Internet and phone. Right now everyone in every department is working their butts off just to keep up.

But, we're glad we have jobs. In years past we would have hired more new people than we have. With the uncertainity of the economy, we're more cautious than usual.

ALP said...

Good old Patti Smith! My vinyl copy of "Horses" was played over and over and over...love that album.

Trooper York said...

Yeah it's different now. Now you work in a piss factory.

What a great name for a law school. Hee.

William said...

At her trial, Patty Hearst claimed that after her kidnapping she had been kept in a dark closet for sixteen days. She was periodically taken out of the closet in order to be raped and instructed in the evil ways of her parents. There was no independent corroboration of this testimony, but her captors were capable of kidnapping and throwing her into the trunk of a car. I see more reason to believe her story than to doubt it. That mixture of terror, rape, and indoctrination were why Patty Hearst became Tania......I have seen several movies and documentaries about Patty Hearst. None of them refute or explicate her assertion. They simply ignore it. Rape does not compute with revolutionary zeal, and the neurons of the left cannot absorb that fact.......Patty was a rich girl, attending a good school. That's why her life became a nightmare. As it turns out, Patti Smith had a much more pleasant time of it than Patty Hearst. There are worse fates than working in a piss factory.

chuck said...

Italian workers

How odd. I got the same "advice" from some Italian workers I worked with in Germany during a summer job. The Spanish workers, on the other hand, were all gung-ho.

The other bit of well intended advice I received from an Italian worker was to avoid girl friends and use prostitutes instead, which would save me lots of grief. That was probably good advice for a married guest worker in Germany at the time. But that wasn't me...

Richard Dolan said...

"Life is different now. But not completely different."

Is there any span of 35 years about which that would not be a true statement, pretty much without regard to context?

ALP said...

DADvocate: "Right now everyone in every department is working their butts off just to keep up."

This is the story I'm hearing from every single employed person I know. The law firm that laid me off last year went through a bigger round of layoffs last month, decimating the support staff in one department. They have a skeleton crew of legal assistants/paralegals left. However, even with the reduction of work I'd witnessed, there is still significant paper pushing to be done. Those that are left are working their fingers to the bone.

My partner is a mechanical engineer who was out of work for a full year. His current employer designs crash test systems for the automotive industry. They are spread so thin "things just are not getting done - important things." In this case, one can't help but wonder if this will result in serious SNAFU's with product design and construction - all because the company is hesitant to hire more engineers.

c3 said...

I had a similar experience when, as a student , I took a job at a local grocery store (UCFW). The break room was a picnic table in the back/stock area. As i worked through my first shift a fellow worker who'd been there for quite some time told me it was time to take my break. I said I din't need a break. She stopped and looked at me sternly and said:

"You WILL take your break."

So I sat on the picnic table for awhile and then went back to bagging groceries.

Hazy Dave said...

Had to Google that picture sleeve. Oh yes, "Produced by Lenny Kaye for Robert Mapplethorpe." I think I have a copy of that at home, most likely the Sire reissue... This is not another of the Professor's "Unplayable 45s I won't throw out", I take it?

So, what do you guys think of the new results page format for Google Images?

That quest led to this cool page of well-known performers in recording studios. All except Patti, who is clearly not at Electric Ladyland...

John said...

So has Patti Smith ever actually worked in any kind of factory? More specifically, on any kind of assembly/production line?

Or is she just making it up based on what she has read and heard?

John Henry

John said...

In 1970 my ship spent about 6 weeks in Todd Shipyard in Brooklyn. The union was feeling rather patriotic and hired a bunch of us for the second shift. (I don't think I ever talked with anyone from Todd. The unions decided who worked there)

I was a "rigger's helper" which meant I did very little.

So one night I am 5 decks down in the bottom of a hold reading a book. Sometime during the shift a crane will lower something down into the hold and I will need to unhook it. I might do that twice in a 8hr shift.

A burner (member of the burner's union) was pulling some oxy-acetylene hose up to the main deck and it got snagged. He hollered down to ask if I could unsnag it. It took me all of 5 seconds.

Someone told my "Snapper" sort of an assistant foreman and he called me up on deck and gave me an ass chewing such as I have never had. He could give Navy chiefs lessons.

The burner was not supposed to ask me to do that. He also got an ass chewing I was told. They had their own assistants to do that. By lending a hand I was taking food from some hard working union man's family.

I came very close to getting fired over it.

And people wonder why we have no shipbuilding industry in the US anymore.

Todd no longer has 7 shipyards building ships. They have two doing repairs. Boo, freaking, hoo.

John Henry

Sophie said...

I never bought the record but I remember hearing that song on WMMR in Philadelphia, back when it was a free-form hippie station. I think it was the first thing I ever heard by Patti Smith. I saw her at the Bijou, which was a little club, sometime that year. It's still one of my favorites of her recordings.

Sophie said...

"....So has Patti Smith ever actually worked in any kind of factory? More specifically, on any kind of assembly/production line?...."

IIRC (I am too lazy to check wikipedia) she did work in that plumbing assembly factory I think right out of high school. Earning money to move to NYC to become a big star. Which she did.

Suburbanbanshee said...

Re: "You will take your break" -- That's about state law. You work a certain number of hours, you have to take a break. If you don't take your break, the business employing you will get fined and disciplined.

Right now, most businesses are being hardcore about making employees go home exactly on the dot, because they're afraid the Feds will make them pay overtime if you should happen to stay late.