Monday, November 12, 2007

Calling the Copse

Canning Operations is about the fourth biggest division at Dole Fruit in terms of manpower, behind Fruit Acquisition, Quality Control, and Human Resources. In terms of raw heart, though, we rank as high as second, although in some polls we come in third. I mean, no one is on the level of the guys and gals in Fruit-Acq. But there are those among the human resources community who think they have more raw heart than we do, and there are those among the Canning Operations staff who think that the HR folks might have a point. Personally, I think it's a little bit suspicious that HR gets to run all of Dole Fruit's Raw Heart polls, but that's just me.

We're a lovable bunch of scamps who love to camp and collect stamps. Last summer we all built bike ramps. And then there was that time we went on a field trip to the pool at the local YMCA, but we all forgot to give ourselves a half hour between lunch and swimming, so we got bad cases of stomach cramps. Our wives are a bunch of very nice ladies.

Canning Operations is referred to as Canning-Ops, or sometimes C-Ops. Other divisions refer to us as "the cops," like law enforcement professionals, or more commonly as"the copse," like a thicket of flowers, which I think better characterizes the guys in Canning-Ops.

The crew is pretty much your standard bunch of degenerate lovable scamp pricks. The list begins and ends with Old Theo - he's been there for like 40 years, so we call him "Old." Then there's Smilin' Luke, who's always smilin'; Laughin' Pete, who can't seem to quit laughing even when things ain't funny; Greasy Tony, who is just as greasy as the legends say, if not more so; Piece of Shit Joe, who's one of the nicest fellers you'll ever meet; Fartypants McCoy, who has no nickname; and Rebecca Goodman, our token Jew. There's also me, Silvestre, Ronny Balboa (yes, that's his real name), Rex "The Supervisor" Hyman (he's the supervisor), Eustice "Not The Supervisor, But Wishes He Was" O'Dowd (he's not the supervisor, but he wishes he was), and Phaedrus T. "Not The Supervisor, But Is Totally Fine With That" Kinney. I don't know why we call him that. There's also about 30 corporate bigwig assholes running the Copse, and hundreds of other Copse folks in the decentralized plants located around the Midwest, the Middle East, and on Guam. And of course, there's also Old Theo.

Every Christmas, we have a quiet gathering where we sip egg nog and read Proust to each other. We follow that by silently singing and playing air orchestra to the fourth movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and reveling in Schiller's gorgeous words about Joy and Brotherhood.
Freude, schöner Götterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium!
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, Dein Heiligtum.
Deine Regenbogen binden wieder,
Was die Mode streng geteilt,
Alle Bären werden Brüder,
Wo Dein Vespascuter weilt.
Last year's get-together was at a tiny, poorly lit dive bar in Hackensack, New Jersey. This year, we decided to do something a little grander, so we booked a tiny, poorly lit dive bar in Hoboken instead. It was between that and Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, and even though the Tully folks were begging us and offering us piles of money, I think we made the right call.

Now, I mention this only by way of saying why it's such a difficult decision to opt out of my Dole Fruit contract. I mean, would you be easily able to walk away from Greasy Tony and Fartypants McCoy and Rebecca Goodman, to say nothing of reading Proust out loud and the Beethoven air-orchestra? Me neither.

But A-Rod needs my solidarity, goddammit. So it's the old opt-out for me. See you later, Old Theo. I guess I won't be breaking your longevity record after all. Dammit, and I only had, like, 40 more years to go.

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