I was pity-hired by Chris Richards three-plus years ago. Asheville’s job market (the country’s job market) in late 2010 was not exactly boffo, even for–shock of shocks–lit majors with graduate degrees in creative writing. What you did was wring your heart’s blood into CVs, applications, resumes and letters of introduction that vanished into the ether. You made a package of your dreams and kissed it goodbye. You knew you were a compelling story, the trick was to make this clear to everyone else.
You were lucky to get back so much as an acknowledgment of receipt. One after another of these arduously tailored maps of one’s self were sucked irretrievably through a rip in this vale of tears. Scores of folks in my boat know what I’m talking about. When we “walked” at commencement we didn’t realize it was a gangplank.
It’s possible now to believe that the only people who will ever benefit from these campaigns are NSA contractors. If I ever become a subject of investigation, they’ll see that I scorched the region to smoking ruins with applications for faculty and staff positions. The most perceptive among them will detect a note of panic in the subtext, throbbing a little stronger in every subsequent letter. Then one day Chris asked Arielle (who worked the Tasting Room a few days a week) how my job hunt was going, she got emotional (we were broke, y’all), and a minute later I had an open invitation to a weekly paycheck.
I am probably the least mechanical person you know. I am probably the least mechanical person in a fifty-mile radius. And, turns out, a brewery is largely a collection of machines, tended and primped and oiled just so, kept and serviced and tinkered with, jury-rigged, jury-rigged again, jury-rigged again.
Luckily, on the cellaring side (I won’t speak for those loftiest of lofties, our center-fielders and QBs, the artists of the brewhouse), most of the labor is mindless repetition. (Marx would dine with brewers but he’d glorify cellarmen–he’d write about cellarmen.) Specifically, I was brought on to wash kegs and bottle.
Our bottler back then was a rotary job that filled one 22-oz bomber at a time. Took between 25 and 30 seconds to fill a bottle. It had been brought back from the other side so many times they called it Frankenstein. One guy could run it, if every so often someone else would come by and box up the product. I made a rude clock out of the process: so many bottles waiting to be cased equaled so much time having passed. You could arrange the finished bottles into shapes on the grates we laid down over the table: a decent triangle took ten minutes of bottling; a B-2 fifteen. The procedure was: you fill a keg from the brite tank and bottle from the keg. There are two B-2s in every keg; six kegs to a squadron.
One time we had to bottle a massive amount of Wee-Heavy-er, so I just stood there spinning and dropping and loading all day, from 9-5 with a break for lunch, and Aaron Wilson filled the kegs for me and cased up the beer. At the end of the day I’d bottled 90 cases. (That’s a wing of bombers, for them keeping track.)
Then we got the Meheen, which takes two guys, runs straight off the brite tanks and fills four beers every twelve seconds. We do 90 cases without breaking a sweat and can exhaust an entire batch (about 180) in two and a half hours.
And in such eye-blinks years pass, people come and go, life happens. I’m in politics and real estate now and it’s time to test the gangplank again.
I am so grateful to everyone with whom I’ve worked and to Daddy Mumbles, who, if there must be a boss, is a most excellent one. Daddy doesn’t get a lot of credit around here, or certainly in this blog, so here goes:
Daddy Mumbles brings to mind a distinction in Texas–and maybe in other states, I don’t know–between general law and home rule townships. In Texas, a general law municipality may engage in only those activities explicitly permitted by the massive Texas constitution, whereas a home rule municipality may engage in any activity not explicitly forbidden by the constitution. We’re all home rule types under Daddy’s wide portfolio, which is one of the reasons we’ve managed a weird, sort of invisible and second-hand imitation of thriving the past several years. They hand you the tools and say go ahead. We are told that America used to be like that. We are hopeful that it can be again.
I am so looking forward to being a customer of this ridiculous little place.