The Old Man and the Corporation

I am Vladimir Tarasoff and I must be the one to tell this story.

For all of my life I worked to build a strong family. So when I arrived in Canada at age 19, I began to work at a company that hired many workers who came here from the old country.  At this factory, I was one of the men who would sculpt wooden models so others could make iron parts. I am proud, because my models were the ones most often used to sand cast the many moulds they needed. This company I worked for from 1929 when I arrived and until 1969,  was called Crane, - like the bird. They made engine parts, fittings, valves and pipes by the tens of thousands and many other objects in this foundry near a man made river channel in the biggest city in Canada. From this new & proud edifice on St.Patrick road in Montreal the Crane Company manufacturered most all of the plumbing for this vast country. They were made here, from where I worked and earned a living. I am very proud to have helped to build a better future for the people of this country and my family.


Then one spring day, after a very long and exceptionally harsh winter, - more difficult than I can ever remember, I was awakened by the sound of three sharp rings. They sounded like bells, but they did not resonate like the bells that I remember hearing when I was at my work place. And when I opened my eyes to see, I saw a blue light come upon me and take me away from where I laid.

I then found myself at a workbench on the third floor of this Crane company chisel tools in hand with many blocks of wood in a crate next to me which was stamped with the words, "Guelph Community College" on both sides. I am not sure where this came from but I began to make my models again from what it contained. This work bench I stood at was not the same one I remembered, but the place where I stood was mine. I knew this because I could see St.Joesph`s cathedral and the big cross on top of the mountain when I looked outside from the window. This was a place I knew well.

As my eyesight slowly became clearer, I looked to the right and saw that there were more buildings in the far distance than what I remembered. And young trees where now abundant and surrounding the area where the train yards were before. There were no open rail cars to be seen filled to their rims with stones and coal ready to cross the road into this massive structure where we all worked. They were always there, waiting each and everyday to cross the road to this foundry. It was there and then that I understood what I needed to do, find the others I worked with everyday at this place to be sure of what had happened here.

Yet I was certain that where I stood now was indeed my work station, the one I spend so many years at for the Crane company, - this was very confusing, why all these differences ? I stood there without movement for a long time using the present workbench to sustain me. I was unable to walk away from this position. Nor did I hear the sounds I would always hear when I was here. There were no lathes or punches or electric machinery turning rapidly, nor the sounds of the hundreds of workers that were there around me every day. It was much more quiet than I ever remembered it to be. So when I felt that I could start to move, I slowly turned around and saw a small boy sliding down some wooden stairs. He looked like my grandson Andrew as a young boy, so I naturally smiled at the sight of him. He briefly glanced in my direction, paused, and then turned away to continue playing. There was also a tall looking hunchback man who was rummaging through some things I did not recognize. I could not make sense yet of what was going on, but I knew that it was good in spirit and I felt no malice in their prescence even amidst all the strange things which surrounded this group of males.

The boy and the tall man did not hear me when I spoke out. Nor did an excited older man who didn`t take notice of anyone around him, even after I raised my voice to see if I could be heard by any of them. After many attempts, I turned towards my workbench to find a new drawing there on the same sheets of paper I would get from Terrence the mail person. He would get them from the people on the first floor who would draw what they wanted to build from the iron they made here from stones. I knew that Terrence did not bring this new drawing to me, I did not see him or anyone I knew pass by.

So not knowing what else to do, I began to work at sculpting a new kind of part, it was like nothing I had ever seen before. It was much more complicated and almost non-sensical at first look. It took me a bit of time to understand that this was now my task, to create the moulds for this part called a "throttle" no matter how long it would take. This task was about the here and now and seeming to be more important than any of the other engine part I ever sculpted somehow and for a reason I did not quite understand yet. No one told me this, but I knew that  this part was going to help many people live better lives and build stronger families. I was certain of this, but for some reason I could not quite understand why yet. Nor could I know what the rest of the motor which this throttle would be operated in looked like. It did not matter. I understood in my heart that it would help the story to go on for many, many more years to come. There was a future, there will always be one, whether we are here or not,  I was becoming more and more certain of this on that spring day.

My work was my life,  I become lost in what it asks of me. I do not know how long I was working on this throttle model, but when I stopped to look around me again, things had changed once again. There were now five men who were moving around and taking all the odd objects out of this place where I first saw the child sliding on the stairs. The different men who were there now looked strange in appearance and took much time to remove everything from the rooms. When they finished, I heard a door shut closed behind them, and there was quiet again.

I now found that I was able to move around by a small step or two before tiring, as for before, my legs would only support my weight with great effort. When there were others here, I wanted to walk towards them in hopes that they would see me, hear me or feel me, but I could not walk to them. Now that all of them were gone, I was able to take a few more steps than before.



There remained some objects against the walls which I could not recognize. These things seemed to have more purpose than all the other oddities that were taken away from this place. The shapes of these larger objects left behind by the five men were square and angular, not rounded and shaped like many of the objects I remembered, and what I saw still seemed ugly to me at best.




And now I was able to move with more ease around this space. I also found that the objects left behind which seemed unfamiliar at first, were slowly becoming understandable to me. As if this different time and space was defining me, - yes I was being defined once again by what was around me as I began to breathe the air that was in this here and now. All I needed now was to be seen and acknowledged by someone.


I was alone for what felt to be a long time, I do not know how long, but several nights had passed and I felt no need for sleep. Then one sunny day, that older excited man I first saw with the child and the tall man came back. By himself this time with a large box that had markings on it. When he removed a device from this box, I saw that this cylinder type object which seemed very light for its size made a turning noise when he touched the top of it. And when it made noise, it seemed to be able to take away much dust and dirt by simply absorbing it inside itself. The empty carton box had many markings and words I did not know. "Shop Vac" was in the largest script, these were not words I knew of.




As I watched him work with this orange and black machine, I noticed that he appeared younger than the first time I saw him. He was smiling continually and moving about the empty space with haste and great intent. He seemed glad, proud and content as a man should be when he is doing what he needs to do. I tried to speak to him, but he still could not hear me or see me, - at least not yet.