Imagination at work: Remembering better times at GE

608px-generalelectricsignFor two summers in the late ’70s, I helped assemble dishwashers and refrigerators at GE’s Appliance Park in Louisville, Ky. Each day, I’d come home smelly, aching, caked with filth. I didn’t complain: There’s something to be said for a job that lets a guy wear sturdy boots, jeans, a T-shirt, and — most important — an attitude. And I was being paid more than any fry cook, grocery bagger or clerk.

Back then, GE employed about 25,000 people at the sprawling, 1,000-acre complex. I was summer help -– one of several college students who were sons and daughters of GE employees. During production, we filled in gaps on the line; during shutdown, we cleaned up the factories.

Cleaning an industrial plant was no simple bucket and mop job. Some of us in the dishwasher plant, for example, had to climb inside the idled ovens to sweep out empty liquor bottles. During my first summer shutdown, when I was assigned to the graveyard shift, we filled several 55-gallon drums with the evidence of a year’s worth of hard, on-the-job drinking. Read more of this post