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Our forge is a collection of wide, crumbling buildings built on the banks of a polluted famous river. The river happens to double as the border of a couple of unfriendly countries which nevertheless do business with each other. Shore patrols cross our land day and night trying to root out smugglers. The smugglers cross the river in silent boats: cigarretes and honey for them, vodka and salami for us. < /p>

The noxious fumes, the gases, the heat, the smoke mixed with microscopic particles of steel that over time builds up in your lungs and in your eyes, choking and blinding you - none of this billows out in noble waves from the streams of molten metal that pours from the channel into the hammer; it spreads through the room insiduously, it's origins unseen but offspring tangible: the entire room is filled with it, and it seems to come from nowhere. < /p>

Big rows of impressive ovens made of scorched and shattered brick fill the room from the entranceway until the hammers. The hammers have mechanic dignity when idle; they have broad metal shoulders and seem to smile dully like a big dumb servant ready to carry out his master's every command. The metal is melted in the ovens; the workers put down their bottle of Vodka when the molten steel is ready and bring out huge pipes hanging from hoists held overhead which they swing and manipulate and move into place until the tip of the pipe is sitting in the mouth of the oven and the other end is pointing down towards the floor. < /p>

The pipe is black; it's made of some sort of melting proof material, carbon in our factory I think. But it could be made out of anything with a higher melting temperature than steel. < /p> Once the metal begins to flow it's the start of a real drunken laborer ballet. The molten steel needs to be guided into the hollow of the die below the hammer without spilling any on the ground; not only is the metal more valuable than the lives of the workers, but the workers too, need to be careful of their own lives as well (a happy marriage of capitalist and union interests), and they therefore work in a team of five people to guide the pipe to the hammer without spilling any of the steel. < /p>

The jobs work out like this: on the top, sitting on a metal platform like a fakir high above the factory floor is the guidance man whose job is to manipulate a bunch of levers which guide a group of pullys to slowly move the hoist into the hammer. He needs to make sure he doesn't move it too suddenly, both to ensure the metal doesn't jerk and spill but also to keep his balance on the platform. On the other hand, he needs to keep the hoist and platform moving since you can only keep molten steel in once place for so long. Below him, by the pipe, is the remainder of the team. Two of the four people do the real tough work; with gloves on their hand the push the pipe forward together with the pully in order to make sure that the difference between the speed of the platform above and the pipe below doesn't, god forbid, give rise to a fatal jerk. In front of and behind them are the most difficult jobs in the entire process; two young men use poles and ropes to quickly jiggle the heated pipe up and down so the molt stays somewhere near the middle; when they see it's about to dip into the front end the push and pull and move around and get the pipe to face the other way until the process needs to be repeated again. < /p>

After about ten minutes the molten steel gets into the hammer and the team goes back to the oven to drink and wait for another fifteen minutes for the alarm to go back on above another oven and and for the process to begin again, molten steel to be fed into yet another hammer. < /p>

The hammers themselves lose all their dignity the moment they are put into operation. They begin to shuck and jive and become some kind of awkward, shouldered beast, pounding and heaving like a villain in a Betty Boop cartoon; on top of it all, they make a terrible noise. When we beat on metal on our part of the river we get complaints from the villagers in the little town on the river's other bank. The entire city knows when our hammer's been turned on. < /p>

The rest of the factory is a sort of purgatory to the main manufacturing room's hell. < /p>

The courtyard is filled with the guts of merchandise of modern manufacture; rail wagons, wagon hooks, crankshafts and tank treads. Our factory keeps up with the latest in quality control techniques - ISO 9000 is the name - and so every heap of shapen metal is stacked on a wooden pallet, and labelled with the name of the foreman in charge of it's manufacture, the time that it was made, what it is, and it's destination. Sometimes, maintaince staff come out of their special building with extermination tanks and spray the wooden pallets to kill all the bugs that somehow thrive on fumes and rotten wood. < /p>

Behind us is the maintance room, although it's rare to actually see anyone doing any maintaince. It seems that the former director used to use maintaince jobs to reward his friends and create a sense of privelege among workers who were ready to betray the Union - not as wicked as it seems considering that the Union was, for instance, consistenly against obvious things like not allowing people to drink, and therefore kill themselves, at work. However, like sinecures everywhere, it seems that a job in the maintaince department came with a granted guarantee that one doesn't need to work. The staff sits in their well-managed hall, eating cheap soya salami substitutes and drinking brandy, watching the manufacturing staff stagger in and out of the production hall, white stains from the salt in their sweat on their pants legs and on their back, sympathizing with, but in no way sharing, their state. Sometimes they all show up in a merry block to turn a screw or complain about the lack of a needed part to fix a piece of equipment. About half of the equipment in the factory is broken, and part of the manufacturing process consists in dodging around the massive pieces of useless equipment scattered around the production floor like an obstacle course. < /p>

To be fair to the former director, who began as a forger himself, there doesn't seem to be any luxury in his offices - the only one I could see was the availability of toilet paper in the bathroom - and the administrative staff sits in the cold and rain (for the roof leaks) and shares their single 386 computer to do all the marketing, management and accounting. Despite this noticeable lack of class difference, the workers hate them. The administrative staff is paid 10% more than the workers are paid - 150 USD a month instead of 135 - but the workers all snarl about how their blood is being sucked by the overpaid, vampiric administrative staff. At the head of this class hatred is the Union leader, a communist party member back in the old days (on his insistance, party slogans were never removed from the walls; "PRODUCE MORE FOR THE GOOD OF THE COUNTRY!" and the name of the former dictator is still printed in Red block letters on the southern wall. The Union leaders likes to take gangs of workers into the offices to threaten the staff with physical violence and growl and snarl; we hired a security guard to protect our own staff from our own workers but after two days of taunting and threats he obviously left, perhaps looking for a cozy job as the bodyguard of a local political baron. < /p>

At any rate my job, which I will probably fail miserably at, is to clean up this place over the next three month, preferably without getting beaten up myself. (There has already been an incident in the factory next door - the owner caught the purchasing director stealing from the till and fired him; the purchasing directors three brothers, all of whom were shipyard workers, tied him up and threw him in the river.) So everybody, wish me good luck! And before you damn capitalism for the sorry state this factory is in remember, that the communists built it and kept up this system. So we can safely state the famous joke around here that Capitalism is the exploitation of man by man; communism is the other way around. < /p>

For"ging (?), n.


The act of shaping metal by hammering or pressing.


The act of counterfeiting.

3. Mach.

A piece of forged work in metal; -- a general name for a piece of hammered iron or steel.

There are very few yards in the world at which such forgings could be turned out. London Times.


© Webster 1913.

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