Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Lending A Hand (or two)

Here's a little story about the old and the new, beginnings and endings, oils and oils, palms and babies, and life on the factory floor...

I’ve walked these cold, concrete floors for nigh on 38 years and I swears I can see my footprints in them in parts. Sometimes I can see where I’d walked way back when I had those 8 months or so with that limp and walking stick to aid my walk after that mishap with the forklift. Friendly (and not so) games of soccer – ‘football’ is what the Pommy’s, the Wog’s and the Irish (we don’t dare refer to them by nicknames, due to their penchant for letting off bombs and going the knuckle) insist we call it – were played at lunch time, and into the early afternoons, and we used the forklift as a goalie. We each took turns operating the forklift, though we should’ve thought twice before letting ol’ blind Eddy turn the key. Sure, he saved a potential match-winning goal, but in my view it was a dangerous tackle, with the machine busting up my right leg in seven different spots.

There were more angles in my leg that day than at a porn shoot.

Yeah, they were some good times we had here. The pay was shit, and the management not worth the eggs we bought most Friday’s to coat their company cars with, but overall I reckon we made our impact on society.

Making, bottling and shipping the country’s finest Palm Oil has shaped the nation to what it is today, in my view. Making the country bigger and better. Definitely bigger. Fish’n’chips, bacon, sausages, pancakes, eggs, chops, crackling – try cooking any of those bad boys without it, and you’ve got yourself a fry pan that you can’t use again.

By the ‘finest palm oil’ I of course refer to its texture, being the least coarse of all the palm oils available. As we know, Face Palm Oil ranked 23rd overall in the country’s best edible oils (as ranked in the Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oil, Oil, Oil! Magazine, August Ed. 1989, before being controversially ruled ineligible the following year after concerns were raised about its edibleness (category 92) – which is baloney! If you can eats it, it’s edible ain’t it?!? Tomato, potato, I guess).

Working on the ground floor, I didn’t have much to do with the Face family that started up and owned the business, so there’s not much I can tells you about them that you haven’t already read about in the social pages of every reputable and disreputable newspaper and magazine, nor what you would’ve seen every couple of months on A 60 Minutes, A Current Affair, the TV special Oils Ain’t Oil Barons, Australia’s 10 Most Wanted, and the likes. But I can tell you I reckon the one mistake they made was changing the spelling of their name to the widely renowned Face from Feces. In my view, Feces would’ve given the product that air of sophistication. A European type of vibe.

Anyhoo, I been racking my brains as to why they making them shutdown the factory and the business as a whole and I keeping shooting blanks.

Safety: we were all pretty safety conscious; glasses, gloves, long hair tied up, thongs (Kiwi George used to call them Jandals, the funny buggar) would be strictly double pluggers.

Money: Percy stealing butter from the fridge and taking toilet rolls home (more than one – surely they would budget for everyone taking one home every now and again, but not for Percy to take more than one roll home more than every now and more than every again. Sometimes more than that) – I’m no good at maths and I’m sure it all adds up, but surely this wouldn’t break the Face bank.

Sanitary: Clive would dip his Jatz Crackers in the palm oil at morning tea time. As a meal, he would also dip his savoury biscuits (not a euphemism) in the oil with to have with cheese (also not a euphemism). But Clive was clean, I can vouch for him. He had that rag in his back pocket for wiping his hands every time he licked’em.

Yeah I been racking my brains and I can’t put my fingers on it. I can’t work out why the Faces been forced to closed down the company, starting with this factory floor. Maybe it’s got something to do with those men in their suits and their ties and their slicked back hair and their manbags and their iPhones.

I still remember the look on that young kids face – I’m still not sure if it was respect, honour or awe that he had – but he had it. From the moment he was introduced to yours truly and informed that it was my palms that we extracted the oils from to make our famous product he didn’t utter a word but he couldn’t hide the fact he couldn’t wait to tell his workmates. Me? I don’t think I’m anything special, I’m just one of the cogs that made this company run – just a little better oiled than the rest. That’s one of our jokes that we still get a lot of laughs at. Yeah, I’m just doing my bit. They get the oils outta my hands (sometimes my forehead, and my pits in the more demanding months when sales are up) which is my job. Bekky’s job is to portion the teabags out so’s we get six bags of tea out of every teabag. And that in my opinion is a pretty important job. But ask a man who doesn’t drink tea and he mightn’t think so much.

So yeah, though it’s taken a lot out of me over the years, it saddens me that we have to shut the factory down and I don’t gets to turn up here no more. But as Dylan says, ‘The times are a changa-chang’. The mumblin’ so-and-so. No idea what he meant, but some peoples do so that’s good enough in my books.

Having said that, I’m mighty excited to start my new job tomorrow at the Baby Oil Factory. Less of a ‘hands-on’ role for me, from what I’m told. Time for the younger generation to give up their blood, sweat and tears for a change. Though, as they used to tell me at the Faces Palm Oil Factory, ‘just make sure that there’s more than 50% sweat/oils than the blood’n’tears so we can legally call it oil.’


  1. It's quite sad in a way. (I have a monthly 100 word writing challenge if you want to join in.

    1. There can't be light without some dark.
      I only know 36 words (19 if you don't count made up ones) but I'll see if I can borrow some others and pop on over.

  2. 'More angles in my leg than a porn shot'. I like that.

    1. Thanks Bryan. That makes the many, many hours of research into that one line all the more rewarding.


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