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  3.13.01

Gold



I had a workbench in the basement of a small sedate jewelry store. It had a wealthy clientele. There were just two of us down there, me and the goldsmith. The ad for the job ran in the Cape Cod Times. Seventy people applied. I was hired after two interviews upstairs in the office. I think my father owning the drugstore two doors down the street may have had something to do with it.

I was being paid five dollars an hour, thats $157 a week for thirty-seven hours of skilled labor. 1995. The silver was cast by a manafacturer in Rhode Island, we did the finish work. The gold we cast ourselves. I did the lost wax work, the polishing, filing and stone setting. The work sucked me into a hunched world of munutiae, my movements were reduced to a space of centimenters, my breathing changed, there was no room for a tremor. The visor I wore created the illusion of bigness, magnifying the tiny stuff that was in my hands. This illusion somehow threw my senses into a turmoil once the visor was off, and made me feel like I was too big or that things were maybe too small.

I'd never owned jewelry myself, just a few hippy trinkets here and there, silver bracelets, a cheap ring. Upstairs young couples chose thier diamonds and wedding bands. Older couples bought tennis bracelets and mothers rings. Downstairs the batches of 24 carat gold I heated and cast ran $25,000. a pop.

My back began to stiffen. A steady pain was developing in my left shoulder from the exertion of my limited movement. The radio played "Run around" by Blues Traveller five or six times a shift. The polishing compound was becoming a part of me. I had to quit. I had just learned how to solder the flowerstems into thier golden baskets, freeing up the goldsmith to work exclusively on the custom work and repairs. I pointed this out to the owner when I asked him for a raise but it was winter, "No money coming in," he said, "we're sad to see you go. Hope you get that shoulder problem straightened out." .

I went to "Health Stop" in the K-Mart plaza. I couldnt really lift my left arm and the pain was nauseating. I waited three hours and was given ibuprofen and a xerox page illustrating stretches I could do, It cost $159. About one weeks pay.

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More jobs than I can name
True stories of Work

2.7.01 deckhand
3.13.01 gold
7.07.01 Petting Zoo
6.02.02 feeding carnivores
8.15.01Cutting scallops
8.28.02 blueberry logic
8.29.02 cranberry bogs

drawings and paintings in
Know Your America Gallery


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