An Excerpt from a Larger Writing…..
When it comes to jobs, I have run the gambit. I have worked as an hourly worker doing hard manual labor.
I made mattresses.
And when I say I made them, I mean just that. I threw the naked heavyweight springs onto a wooden table and added the “innards” of the mattress, the foam, the cotton batting and then thicker foam and the quilted cover. (Which I had already also made on the quilting machine…I was a one man department)
I took a “hog ringer” which is an air gun which bends large metal staples through the cover and attaches them to the spring. I got my thumb in the way several times and ended up with one of those things through my thumb. Most of the time, if I just shot them through the corner of my thumb I would just have someone else take a pair of plyers and unbend the ring. Once when I shot one straight through the middle of my thumbnail I had to let a Doctor get it out. He used a pair of plyers too.
The only difference was the tetanus shot.
After hog ringing the cover onto the spring and filling up a huge buggy with mattresses, I would take them to “tape edge machine” and sew the cover to the “boxing” which is the narrow strip which runs around the circumference of the mattress. You would pick the mattress up off the buggy, throw it on the sewing table and pull it up under the tape edge machine. You would then sew completely around the mattress, flip it over and while putting pressure on the mattress with your right arm to hold it down, you would use the knee lever which moved the machine to sew the second side. The king size mattresses were about 90 pounds each. If the “boxing” was a little narrow then it required a lot of pressure to sew the second side. It was like holding down a horse to give it a dose of castor oil.
I once did nearly 100 mattresses in one day, since we were on “incentive” meaning the more I did, the more it paid.
This company worked ten hours a day four days a week, with two ten minute breaks and a half hour for lunch. During the half hour lunch I usually slept.
For the first two weeks before my body got used to it, I would come home at night and just fall onto the bed and lay there. I didn’t even feel like eating, although I ended up finally doing so because I needed energy for the next day.
There were many weeks when our orders were not very good and they started cutting our work down to three days instead of four. I was in a lazy “funk” at that time, and I did this for two years,1980-82, before moving on to the world of medical supply sales, at my wife’s highly motivating suggestion that we needed more money to raise our growing family. We did, and I got out of my doldrums and got my butt to work.