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I am dead now. I am so sad.

     It seems like only a few days ago, I was alive and well. Every morning, my gates would be thrown wide open, welcoming in my occupants. In my parking lot, under my protective watch, they would leave their vehicles, unlocked. They knew it was safe here.

     Once inside my walls, my little worker bees busied themselves with their assigned tasks. Since I made a popular brand of earthenware, many of them worked in preparing the clay for baking. Many of my machines, my moving parts, were utilized in softening the clay, shaping the clay, and finally, forming it into what would be the final product. Once the clay was shaped, it was placed inside my enormous oven, for baking. I was so proud of my oven; it was my heart. Without it, I had always felt there would be no me. But there was so much more to me.

     Once the earthenware was baked, glazed, and cooled, it was carefully fork lifted by the gentle dame who operated my forklift, to 8 very special ladies. They provided the final touch to my items. They deftly applied color and designs to my otherwise bland wares, which helped them do so well at market. I also kept a very watchful eye over these ladies, because one slip of the hand, or even an ill-timed cough, would land paint 'outside the lines.' I never looked forward to this happening, for the item, whatever it was, and no matter how precious and vital it was in my eyes, was quickly taken to a side room, and smashed into a thousand, meaningless pieces. I thought about requesting burials rites for these poor souls, but my efforts would have been useless, I'm afraid.

     My little miracle workers didn't spend all their time here working. Sometimes they would stop in the halls and exchange jokes or tell stories from their evenings at home. I loved hearing these, it helped me know my workers so much more, and I yearned to learn more about them. Inside my small, well equipped cafeteria they would sit and replenish their energies, discuss things that bothered them, exchange pictures of their newborns, or open the door quickly to retrieve a bag of ice from the ice merchandiser some kind soul placed inside me. In fact, that ice merchandiser signaled the beginning of the end.

      One cold, windy day, a big ice truck, one which frequented me on a fairly regular basis, especially during the summertime, backed up to one of my dock spaces. The ice man walked inside, exchanged greetings with my 8 special ladies, and proceeded to complete his own assigned task. He always breaks out his hand truck, loads it with a few hundred pounds of ice, and generously stocks my ice merchandiser. But, wait, what is he doing? Why isn't he taking his cart? He has an empty skid, pulling it with a handjack. Oh no, no, please…

     He has come for my ice merchandiser. The rumors I have heard are indeed true. A few of my workers have been whispering about operations possibly ceasing here, inside me. I have laughed them off. I was sure The Management would see how valuable I am, how well I take care of my people and my products. But this, this was the beginning of the end. As he carefully loaded the heavy merchandiser onto his truck, I watched the first part of me disappear.

If only the flow had stopped here.

 

     Now, my gates are shut. No more do I welcome in my previous, beloved workers. Instead, strangers roam my halls, sharing obscene jokes and spitting on my floors. They are hired killers , removing the parts that once made me whole. The 8 stations where my 8 special ladies worked are no longer. My cafeteria is vacant, no longer a forum for conversation. No longer is clay stored inside me. No wares will ever again leave my doors. The lone tractor trailer now parked at my dock is slowly sucking the life from me, slowly being filled by these strangers.

     As I look out my windows, I see the apple orchard I share this land with. It too, is empty and barren. It lies useless now, but in the coming months, april showers will bring may flowers, and soon apples will begin to grow in their trees. They will have many more spring times like this, they will always have a purpose in life. I have tasted my last spring and I am now in my final winter.

I am so empty and so cold.


This factory, the Pfaltzgraff facility in the small town of Bendersville, PA, located in the heart of apple country (there is, indeed, an apple orchard on the other side of the road), was one of my stops on one of my routes. It was my favorite stop too, a convenient place to stop on the relatively long drive down to Biglerville, PA. I was the man who removed its ice merchandiser, and recently, when I drove by on my route, I saw the unfamiliar workers, tearing away its soul. For some reason, this really hit me hard, and these are the thoughts that filled my mind that entire day. If anybody's interested, I can find out the specific dates of its opening and closing. Doubtful though, that anybody cares, as it's such a small thing, in so big a world.

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