Getting the boot and making the most of it

Kabarkan Obrolan IniShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on LinkedIn0

Getting the boot and making the most of it

If you grown up in my hometown in England before the 1970s, your educational future would been decided before age 12. A mandatory written exam, known as the plus named for the approximate age of the students determined whether you were either college material, or you were not.

I was not. At age 15, after completing four years at a school that taught the basics, I was destined to join the rest of my blue collar neighbors in the windowless world of shoe manufacturing.

Factory work was plentiful back then. I could quit work one day and find another job the next. This flitting around would stopped had I stayed in England instead of scampering off to America. boot and shoe industry. The importing of cheap goods, and the exporting of jobs, were blamed. Tastes changed too. Fewer people were wearing smart leather boots and shoes. Brooks Ltd., owned by a Mr. Steve Pateman, and located in Earls Barton just a few miles from my hometown was also in trouble. Sales of his quality leather brogues had declined to the point the factory was about to close.

was a random phone call from a woman from a fetish shoe shop in Folkstone who asked Steve if he could supply her with ladies shoes in men sizes, quoted the Northampton Chronicle Echo.

The niche market of erotic footwear had opened up. Thigh high boots reinforced with metal to support a man weight. The cheap jerseys product saved the factory.

Although Steve worried the locals would disapprove, he was more concerned about keeping his factory open and his people working. He didn hesitate to do whatever it took.

A company brochure was in the works but none of his employees would advertise the boots. Steve, a stocky rugby player, ended up shaving his own legs for the photo shoot.

You can imagine what a national stir it caused to have a venerable manufacturer go from making conservative brogues to stiletto heeled boots for men.

The story was dramatic enough to inspire a BBC documentary called, at the Top; followed by a British comedy drama, Boots; and a Broadway musical by the same name that earned 13 nominations and six Tony wins.

All I can say is it was a good job Steve factory didn employ me. It might have gone under even with the kinky boots franchise.

One of my first shoe factory jobs was operating a machine called a skiver. My task was to shave off enough leather from the upper part of a shoe section so the machinist could stitch it to the lower section. If I didn take off enough leather, the upper would be too thick for the machinists needle. If I took too much off, holes would appear.

I was inept. I consistently skived off too much leather, creating more waste than anyone in the factory.

The foreman, the only male in the building, fired me. I was holding my last weekly pay packet, and crying, when a co worker and neighbor, Marian Shaw, asked me what happened. She marched straight over to the foreman.

can give Pauline the sack. If you do, we all out.

During this time, Rag Trade, was one of the most popular sitcoms on British television. The comedy series featured the antics of women working in a clothing factory.

The shop steward, Paddy Fleming, was the show star. In response to labor disputes ranging from the minor to the miniscule, Paddy would blow an ear piercing blast from a whistle whipped from the pocket of her smock. These shrill alerts would be followed by her declaring, out, a work stoppage catch phrase that swept the country.

These escapades drove Reg Turner, the foreman, off his rocker.

It was against this backdrop that my loyal neighbor, Marian Shawn, made her threat of the shoe factory strike. The foreman relented, and rehired me. I got bored and quit the following week.

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