Volume 28, Number 2

The Word Factory

At 7.55 a.m. I clock on, then go up to the change rooms & get into my overalls. At 8 a.m. exactly I walk out onto the factory floor, go to my station on the assembly line.

I am part of a team that puts words together. Each person has their own speciality. The skip beside me holds the dots that complete the letter i.

They are packed in dispenser tubes of 1000 which I upend so that gravity feeds them out to me.

There is an order to how I remove the tubes from the skip. When I reach the tube with the kanban card attached, I know that there are only five bundles left. I tear it off, push a button to let the skip-movers know that my station needs replenishment. They arrive as I am upending the last dispenser.

Today there is a rush order on. It's a late order, for Recession. We had known it was coming—had, in fact, built up a stockpile—but not exactly when. So many euphemisms to be used up first.

It's an extremely large order. So large, in fact, that we run out of the letter n just after 1 p.m. Many of our suppliers have gone out of business recently, & those that are left are having trouble keeping up.

I occupy the down time by writing this note. I am using letters that have been rejected by our Quality Control people. There is not much wrong with them, a micron out here & there, but we strive to give our customers perfect words.

At 1.27 p.m. a directive comes down from Management. The remainder of the afternoon will be spent putting together a new word, two words actually, both without n, to build up stocks for the projected rush on them. I finish off the shift using my dots to complete the exclamation marks that our Marketing people believe will be a much in demand accessory to accompany Global Catastrophe.

—Mark Young