I replaced a mechanical arm once on the night shift at the Bird’s Eye factory
in Eastbourne, England.
The arm swept the green beans from the main chute into side conveyors
where ladies wearing hair nets separated the good beans from the bad.
It was the top conveyor, so I was in full view of the workers below
as I moved my arm back and forth sweeping beans
in a poor imitation of a mechanical arm.
My fellow student workers threw beans at me and the ladies in hair nets
shouted “get a move on, Paddy”. My name isn’t ‘Paddy’
but that’s what English people called Irish people back then.
Time moved like molasses
time passed like a wet Sunday in Belfast
before the Troubles.
On the way home in the early morning,
we stole milk bottles from doorsteps, just because we could.
Ahhh, the memories.