Passing Time
Ron Roy

Novel - Paperback
290 pages
Print - $17.95 / PDF - $5.00
ISBN: 978-0-9827136-1-7




“Blue Cubicle Press, which is responsible for the wonderful Workers Write! and Overtime series, is publishing ... PASSING TIME ... Ron Roy’s 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 relate–taking 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. Roy’s 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 metal.

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.

The Author:
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.