My Bethel Experience Part 5
The Machines conquer all!
After our meeting with Knorr and the “Heavies,” some of the boys and me got a job changes.
I was sent to Bindery 5th floor, Building 3, bindery line 5.
Welcome to hell. Abandoned hope all who enter here.
Standing in the same spot, 8 hours and 40 mins a day. You would take a book out of one machine, the “rounder” and shoved it into another machine the “back liner.” You would do this same motion 16,000 to 17,000 times in one day.
You would get the "1000 yard stare." The same one you would see in the war movies, the same stare that guys would get after they have seen too much.
To fight off the boredom you would play mental games with yourself. The first week there I thought about everyone I ever meet. The next week you would think about every movie you ever saw. The next week, about every place you would like to travel to. The next week you would, think about every mistake you ever made. And then there was the girls, lots of thinking about girls. Then it all stopped and next week, someone would walk up and ask you "What are you thinking about?"
"NOTHING" you would say, you were brain dead. There was just the groaning sound of the machines. Days drifted into weeks, weeks into years.
There is eternality! Some hours in that factory feel like it. There were days you looked at the clock and it would say 2:13. You would look again and it would say 2:26! There is a hell.
A good friend of mine, Jim Pipkorn, who also stood up at the Black September meeting. He worked with me in the laundry. He got shafted to the bindery too, to the "end sheet gluer." In the bindery he got so depressed that for months, he would come back to his room at night and make himself some dinner. Then he would go to bed, at about 7:00 p.m.
I asked him why he was doing that, he said "It makes the days go by quicker"
We were counting our time. It was just like Viet Nam. You would ask a guy how long he had left. He would say "3 years 2 months to go" We would say "You Poor bastard......that is after 1975, so you will never have any sex." You should have seen the look on his face.
Of course there is no racial prejudice in the Lords house.
Yet about 20% of the Bethelites were black but about 60% of the guys in the bindery were black. It seemed odd to me so, I asked Calvin Chiych (assistant factory overseer at the time) why that was, he said it was "Because the black 'brothers' have a NATURAL rhythm which works well with the machines.”
So they got some of the shitist jobs in the factory because of their “natural rhythm.”
I was dying every day. I prayed "Please God get me out of here."
I found this picture of this old guy with grey hair, he was praying with a bible and a loaf of bread on a table, hands folded, maybe you have seen it? I hung it up in my locker. One day my floor overseer Phill Gouckinbil saw it and said "What is this brother Casarona? This guy is not a witness! Because that is not a new world translation bible on the table" I said "I thought he was! That he was one of the anointed ones, behind the iron curtain and that was the only bible he could get!".........."Mmmmm" he said as he walked away. I had nothing to lose I was alright at one of the worst jobs in the factory.
Well, It must have worked........I got a job change 2 weeks later to the east freight elevator building one. I thought I died and went to haven. I could walk around and even go to the bathroom anytime I wanted. I was my own boss......WOW I was in heaven.
That is where I meet the press room animals, Great guys.
Just below the press room is the 5th floor ink room. These guys were "The Mash unit" of the factory..........these guys got away with murder. ........they had coffee breaks. They even had a place they could hide and one of them could take a nap, as the others were on look out. Their overseer was Norm Brecky. I really cool guy I thought, until Jimmy Olsen killed himself. Anyway he would go to bat, for his boys “The Inkies” which he did so more than once.
One day, down by glue room, I was standing there with Mike Stillman and 2 other guys. Mike had this big wooden paddle about six ft. long. He was beating the harden glue with it. It made a sound like a whip hitting flesh. He would yell out "FEED THE ROUNDER (a cruel bindery machine)........SLAP..........FEED THE ROUNDER ..........SLAP! ”Please don't beat me, brother overseer..............FEED THE ROUNDER............SLAP!"........We were all laughing. Just then walking up from behind us was none other than "Liver lips Linderman".....The head bindery overseer! He stood there for a minute quaking and finally said "Just WHAT do think, would have happened if it was a TOUR that came over that bridge instead of ME!"
Mike Just stood there, with his paddle over his shoulder and said..........."Well, I guess they would think we normal, like everyone else!"
Oh MY GOD, we are so screwed, I thought! One thing you would never do at bethel is defend yourself.
Linderman stood there with smoke coming out of his ears and with a hateful smile. He didn’t know what to say. How dare us stand up to him. He finally said "YOU...........HAVE DONE A VERY BAD THING" and walked off. We are totally screwed.
That was it, I thought, bindery here we come…. back to hell!
But no, Norm came through again. He saved us.
That is, what is so nice about Bethel, it’s the love! ..............and of course there is NO fear of man.
Monday part 6
Keep 'm coming!
ugh, all that hard work and the books you bound are probably considered "old light" now. What a waste.
new boy, thanks for sharing your firsthand experiences from the big house. Please keep um comin. Thanks!
Thanks new boy. Very interesting reading indeed, so revealing of the 'milk of human kindness', with help at hand in the most unusual places.
I enjoy your OPs because they provide very human insight on life at Bethel at the 'coalface'. You not only survived working in the factory but made a significant transition when you left.
Your experiences remind me of an observation made some time back that the farther away people are from life at Bethel, the easier it is to believe the organization is "Jehovah's channel on earth". Hence, nothing brings JWs down to the simple realization that theirs is just another man-directed belief system than close proximity to what happens in "Jehovah's channel".
I so look forward to your posts!
Just wanted you to know that I've read and greatly enjoyed each one of your Bethel series. You convey the emotions very well, making the reader feel as if they are there with you, and your writing is good natured and has a "light" tone for such a heavy subject. A hard thing to do when writing. Great job. Looking forward to the next installment.
Digging the stories dude, please keep em coming. I know of a story an old Bethel friend, Don, told me, of how some of the ole kitchen boys, would literally SWIM in the giant metal vats of cherry sauce that was being made for lunch the next day, lol.
These are the sort of essays or life stories that should be in one of the mags and be required reading for any poor kid who thinks he's going to be a shining star for going into enforced labor with that Corp.
I suppose any labor laws such as breaks and humane treatment aren't applicable in the house of God....and ot pay...well that not a consideration...
I was at the farm and much later. But reading your posts I can feel myself in the tunnels, smell the mildew of the old 124 building and remember the loneliness on everyone's face. (The farm wasn't as bad, but when we visited Brooklyn we thanked God we weren't there!)