The Bridges of New Hampshire
The Bridges of New Hampshire
It was in my fifth year at the mart as a cart gatherer. I was the only guy who could organize the fixture room. I found out that an organized fixture room would save the store one hundred thousand dollars a year in lost income. An associate looking for five eight-inch peg-scan fixtures that fit into peg-board in a gondola in an isle in the store, would spend 45 minutes searching an unorganized fixture room. When it was organized, the same person could find the five pegs in thirty seconds.
I found out what I needed to do by running experiments in human nature. I numbered the bins, put a flat two-dimensional illustration in front of each bin of what was inside, put maps and indexes at the entrance of the fixture room, put random natural pictures in front of each bin each unique, color-coded the room into three areas and also scented the room with distinctive smells in each of four areas. It worked.
But then I had resistance from the dark side of human nature. Employees who were abusing substance had difficulties dealing with a neat orderly room. Others deliberately sabotaged my work due to the sociological heiricacal order inherent in any locale including commercial situations like the store. No one excels unless they meet the criterion of the invisible elite within the unit. A significant minority of the employees defer to the unspoken hierarchy amongst themselves. I was always in their face, you know. I thought such childishness to be elitist and trite. I mean, get a life. But reality is what it is and even my opinion won't change that. It isn't enough to just do your job.
You have to master the skills of coping with the unseen infrastructure of human deference or they will see to it that you cannot succeed. The social situation cancels itself out. That's history. It's what kept the Chinese back for thousands of years. The only civilizations, apparently, that excel are the minor ones, the least capable ones like the Europeans. They are less likely to hold each other back because they're too inept at it. So they prospered.
So I left the job. All that to say this. Anyway, I wasn't supposed to really do the fixture room. I was the stock boy. The cart gatherer. During my time gathering carts, I used a micro recorder to work on books, with seventeen still on the back burner. But I did the fixture room 'cause I really felt sorry for the poor people who had to use it. It impressed me as inhumane to subject employees to improperly organized facilities.
I was getting repetitive stress especially in my knees. I found ways to get the carts faster so I could get back to the fixture room. The illustrations I had made of the fixtures were often torn away from the bins by the saboteurs. So I put up photocopies. The saboteurs also spent their time on the clock to put fistfuls of fixtures from their proper bins into improper bins. They liked to make it obvious because that's supposed to make you frightened, you see. Pathetic.
Well, free at last. The assistant manager handed my the final papers to sign and said, "Are you sure you want to go ahead with this?" I thought, "Man! Are you kidding?" When I left, almost a third of the work force left as well. When I went back for my final check to the cash office, I noticed a sign below the time-clock saying "Don't quit before talking to a manager first."
At first I tried to work on my books and got them and about five others to final draft stage and there they've been since 1997. Then I started my first painting in years, High Water '96 (click to see it), but in the middle of that (I have attention deficit disorder), I started the photo shoot for an ambitions project in which I hoped to do four paintings each of all the covered bridges of New Hampshire, for each season, Spring, Summer, Winter, and Fall. I only got the Spring shoot done and put it on the shelf for a while.
It took three weeks. I had to use detective work to find most of the bridges. I walked through each of them except for number fifty, the Bartlett. It was completely blocked by a private tourist shop. I felt that if I walked through them something special would happen as if to go through would mean leaving one world to go to another, as it were.
I was realizing that, with the onset of the sedentary labors I now had working on the books and the painting, my physical condition was deteriorating, so I started to go to the gym in down town Claremont. Having aversions for treadmills, at least then, I resorted to parking far away from the gym and walking there from where I parked for my warm up and cool down each day I worked out.
One day I noticed the ceramic place on my walk and started to go there and learned how to use ceramic decals to fire the image of artwork onto the surface of a ceramic item. I had already done a drawing of one covered bridge, the Dingleton Hill bridge (click to have a look), so I got in touch with Pop Hill in Texas to do some decals for me of the bridge drawing. When Pop Hill died later, I learned to print my own.
The romantic part is that it was there at the ceramic place that I met my wife and we got married later in the Cornish Windsor Bridge. We almost lost mother-in-law to a pick-up truck. So we got married over the Connecticut River in a covered bridge connecting two states: Vermont, where Jen's father was born, and New Hampshire, where my father was born.
I suppose I better get you back to the site. Click any portal below:
Paul A. L. Hall
Copyright © 2003 [Paul Hall]. All rights reserved.