Commentary and Philosophy Fiction posted May 15, 2012 Chapters:  ...9 10 -11- 12... 

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A Few Secrets From My Aircraft Mfg. Career

A chapter in the book The Two of Me

The Dark Side of Aerospace Work

by QC Poet

The Life and Times of Chochee Medina
It was July of 1979 and I had just graduated from High school a month earlier. Due to some fortunate circumstances (for me), one of the biggest Aerospace Companies was hiring. With my elder brother's recommendation, I got a call for an interview. In 1979 the starting hourly rate for a production worker was $2.50 an hour but for an aircraft worker it would be six to seven dollars an hour to start. Things were beginning to look up and I was on cloud nine.

I was extremely excited when I went to my interview and everything was going beautifully. As we got to the end of the interview the Human Resources Rep. made me the offer to become a fabrication helper for $6.45 per hour. She asked if this was acceptable to me, I answered her "are you kidding?, I am making two dollars and fifty cents at my current job right now" and began to Thank her for the offer which I immediately accepted. With a child on the way I would have been crazy to turn this offer down.

All that was left was to sign and date the application and the job offer. That is when she said something that struck me like a blow to my stomach, she said "oh no, I can't hire you" after looking over my application, this was due to my current age, I was 17 yrs old. I explained to her that I just graduated from High School, but she told me the company required employees to be at least eighteen years old due to the companies liabilty insurance policy.

The devastation was apparent on my facial expression because she looked at me and asked what was wrong. I then mentioned that I would soon have a child and she told me to give her a few minutes to figure something out. She made a phone call and then returned to me and told me that I could have the job, but I would have to come back after my 18th birthday which was at the end of August, in about 3 weeks. I asked if they would hold the job for me and she said yes.
Since my birthday was at the end of August, I agreed to begin the job the first week of September and I did. Little did I know then that I would soon come face to face with a work culture that operated much like the streets I grew up in so I immediately felt at home.

The social diversity of the employee races there was immediately apparent to me from day 1, but unlike what I saw in the schools I went to, all of the races seem to get along rather well, then again everyone was here to make a living and acted accordingly. The odd thing was that for the most part there were still groups of employees that congregated together, the white bikers largely made up the mechanics that worked on and maintained the heavy equipment and machines, the Hispanics and blacks ran the machines and were more craftsmen and inspectors as well as laborers. The security guards were mostly blacks and whites and some of them also worked in law enforcement.

I came to find that out one day while returning from my lunch hour. As I walked back through a secured gate,I recognized a guy that had pulled me over while cruising the San Fernando Mall with some homies month's earlier. The reason I recognized him was, when he pulled me over, he tried to put me in a choke hold and make me pass out in front a group of his peers. As he failed his buddies yelled at him "what's wrong Strokes? Can't you choke out a beaner"?
As I walked thorough the guard shack gates I asked him "What's up Officer Strokes?" He then called me back and tried to make some conversation about how things are different out in the streets and I told him not to worry, that I understood how things were, we then shook hands and went on our way.

With such a diverse work force the company had it's share of culture and counter culture ideas. We were a hard working bunch. Along with the hard work ethic came some other ethics like parting as hard as we worked. Most of the work force had come to bond with each other over time at near by watering holes, bars, and restaurants. Holiday parties at and around the work location became a way for the different races to bond, and for those that were into partying, this also became a way to make new connections.

You could find every sort of diversion one could think of after all, the work force was youthful and ranged from white bikers, to cholos to blacks, all who lived in the surrounding communities where most already had their own internal sources for wetting any appetites of the illicit nature.

Pot, speed, coke, hash, pills, powder, or anything in between, could be gotten with cash, and everyone here had very good paying jobs. As matter of fact I would come to find out later that the reason I was able to hire in when I did, was because the local police had raided one of the close by watering holes and many employees where caught, then fired during that raid.

Most of this occurres in most "blue world program" areas, and yet the "black project areas" also have its own version of "out of the blue into the black" secrets.

And just like in the neighborhood that I grew up in, when you spend enough time in a certain environment, you come to quickly understand who you can and can't trust.

Life and Times of Chochee Medina

Chapter 10
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