Blue Cubicle Press, which is responsible for
the wonderful Workers Write! and Overtime
series, is publishing ... PASSING TIME ... Ron Roys
honest and compelling coming-of-age novel set on the
papermaking floor of a New England mill. The story
is set within an experience with which many readers
will be able to relatetaking a job in the factory
while stopping out from college (as opposed to summer
employment). The temporary/maybe not temporary nature
of such employment makes for only one of the interesting
tensions in the novel. Roys descriptions of
the factory floor are accurate, entertaining and insightful
(since I have spent a great deal of time on paper
mill floors I can attest to this); he captures everything
from safety to craftsmanship to horseplay to the extreme
diversity of what comes to the workplace in employee
lunch boxes. He nails the notion in paper mills that
company profits are inversely connected to how strenuously
workers are forced to labor and that the noxious fumes
from a pulp mill are the smell of money.
-- John Beck, Our Daily Work/Our
Daily Lives _____________________________________________________________
Eugene (Gene) Wheeler always wanted to
be an engineer, but after failing math, he drops out
of college and takes a job in his hometown paper mill.
He hopes the dead-end job will allow him to be a robot--go
through the motions--as he considers his options for
the future. From his first day on the job, however,
he finds himself caught between two groups of men,
each devoted to the job in their own way and determined
to include him in their ranks. Gene discovers the
job is not the smooth ride he envisioned and soon
realizes there are no time outs in life.
From Passing Time:
He plunged through the doorway
and into the corridor as it stretched before him
for what seemed like miles. Brick walls and machinery
gave way to excess paper in the warehouse, rolls
six feet in diameter and ten feet wide, stacked
to the ceiling, canyon walls clear to the exit,
where the lights of the parking lot glittered, promising
safety and sanity and a dozen other things that
he'd always taken for granted, that he'd always
expected to be his very own.
He walked toward the light,
holding himself back, trying not to run, dragging
the stick along the wire-mesh that stood between
him and the rolls. At first, he took comfort in
the tiny jolts that ran through the foot-long wooden
dowel and up his arm, but when he reached the first
sign: BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY, these were not enough.
He smashed his lunch box on the sign, splattering
the remnants of his supper across the bright orange
And then he ran.
Signs flashed by him as he
sprinted down the corridor. MORE CARE-LESS HASTE.
HEAVY EQUIPMENT. He ran past a security guard who
stuck out one hand as if to stop him, but then he
seemed to think better of it and backed away.
At the first junction, he
caught a flash of red out of the corner of his eye--MOVING
VEHICLES--but plunged across the aisle, anyway.
Propane filled his nostrils. A horn sounded, and
he dodged out of the way as the forklift brushed
against his leg. "Are you fucking crazy?"
the driver screamed, but Gene left him far behind.
The PINCH AREA sign showed a stick man caught between
two gears, but he couldn't read the last one, its
thick, black letters blurred by his tears. He remembered
it, of course, the first one he'd seen on his first
day: DANGER: MEN AT WORK. Back then, he'd thought
the danger was in the WORK itself, but now he knew
that it was in the MEN.
Ron Roy grew up in Northern New England in the shadow
of the Presidential Range and the Brown Paper Company.
He graduated from St. Michael's College in Winooski,
Vermont, with a degree in literature. After a brief
stint at The Company, he made his living in the healthcare
industry, primarily in the operating room and sterile
processing. He lived in Dallas, Texas, for twenty-five
years and recently returned to New Hampshire where
he has driven cars for an automobile dealership and
flagged traffic for a construction crew. Passing
Time is his first novel.