The General Motors Plant is closed today. It’s a Sunday. The parking lot is empty. The air is chilly. The way the sun hits the sheet-metal makes it look almost beautiful.
My father spent two years building this plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, not long before he died.
My father’s white welding truck would sit parked out front. Hoses dangling from the back, a clipboard on the dashboard, a welding mask in his front seat. Always a welding mask.
You would’ve liked him, everyone did. He was a foreman on this GM plant. Being a foreman in Tennessee was big news for him. Before, he’d always been just a welder. But a foreman, that meant he was more than just a worker bee. He was some body.
Being “somebody” isn’t the same as being “some body.” That single space between the two words makes all the difference.
You might run into “somebody” at the supermarket. But if you run into Jimmy Carter at the supermarket, you’ve just met “some body.”
father took me to his jobsite one day. The automotive plant was almost finished. He explained the ins and the outs of ironwork to me, but his words were miles above my head.
He talked about footers, joists, girders, column splices, and I can’t remember what else. All I remember is the welding mask, sitting on his front seat.
When the big project was finished, my father took his wife and boy to Nashville for a celebration meal. It was a fancy restaurant with white table cloths. My French fries were reddish-colored and spicy.
I’d never seen fries look so unnaturally colored before.
“What’re these?” I asked, poking at my plate. I expected a tentacle to slither from beneath the fries and steal my fork.
“Those’re seasoned fries,” my father said. “All the big cities have seasoned fries.”