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On a cold, blowy, darkest of nights, I was awakened with a start by a presence in my room, not that of a child or a pet or even a Japanese beetle but of something the likes of which I’d never seen, sort of an eerie being that seemed to loom.
He arrived not in Victorian bedclothes but in a work uniform with his name on his breast, his face creased with hard work and palms rough but strong, many muscles rippling in his chest.
His eyes sparkled with pride and productivity, and he spoke urgently to me about what he thought I should see.
He motioned me from the bedroom and opened the door not onto the cold front steps of my home but into a bustling factory.
There were lines of workers handling great tasks, stamping out car parts from dies that were cast. They were energetic and hopeful, and they understood, Their work had value, a paycheck from that company was good.
As I began to grasp what I was seeing, mortal fear grabbed me that I was not in my time. Would I return as my soul to the days in which I felt comfortable?
I began to shake, my heart like a chime.
The uniformed figure who was guiding me, spoke in his best Dickensian voice, “I told you these were shadows of the things that have been. That they are what they are. Do not blame me.”
“This is Martinrea, isn’t it?” I said staring at his clothes.
“Yes,” he said, “it was that great factory, just a few years ago.”
I did not blame him, but I looked away in great grief to see what had become of a great factory of workers, hundreds of them, more than a thousand, who toiled in a belief.
They gave their best every day and built products people wanted to buy, but they did not know that one day most of them would be gone, that they would be no more than ghosts in their own lives, just as my visitor was with I.
And the next thing I knew, I was back in my bed, those visions of a great factory, swirling in my head.
Not before a doze had taken me back to a place of calm, came a man dressed much the same, only the edges were more ragged, his face was clouded with fear and perhaps shame.
“Come with me,” he beckoned, “I have something you must see. You have to understand that in our world, no comfort comes free.”
We returned to the same location, I recognized it quickly, but only the sign out front showed me that, and suddenly with fear anew, my skin became prickly.
There were only a few cars and scant workers doing a job, and notices on the wall charged that their managers from them they did rob.
I watched and understood exactly what had occurred. Not so many were buying vehicles; in this economy, they were not preferred.
More than a thousand people had gone home, their services no long required. But it wasn’t as if they had asked to be retired.
Profits were dwindling, some said the doors may soon be slammed, so to avoid that step, bosses wanted the parking lots less crammed.
“This is the same place?” I asked, yet I knew.
“It’s sadly what happens when business never really grew.”
I grabbed this figure and begged, “Take me away from this mournful sight.”“Remember, I’m not to blame. You just need to have it right.”
And so to my slumber I tried earnestly to return. I didn’t want any more lessons this night that some felt I must learn.
Yet there was no peace, no quiet, no rest, when a figure with a long beard said, “There’s one more request.
“You must come once again, to a place we all dread, you must see what happens when a factory is dead.”
And as he described it, I could see weeds grew in cracks, there were no cars, no trucks, no sounds of loud whacks.
No products were rolling off a dormant assembly line, and even the building seemed larger; there was no sign.
“Where is this? What is this?” I asked once again.
“He looked at me sharply and then started to grin.
“Why this is what’s left when a factory is moved. It leaves behind skeletons, ghosts and signs to behoove.”
I couldn’t quite grasp why this message was meant for me. I was not a manufacturer, no logic seemed to occur.
When this man of the future said, “Your facts you do blur.
“Can’t you understand this future, as I to you show it? It’s the old Harley plant in York, and surely you know it.”
“All of you in Kentucky, you wanted our jobs. You did your best bidding, and we felt about to be robbed.”
“We had no chance to work harder, no very real say, huh?
“Doesn’t it seem like what you knew of the old Martinrea?
“You had hundreds working hard, and the work went away. Then everyone was sad, glum and left only to pray.
“Some gave up careers, some others their lives. But the factory did dwindle, within a hair it did die.
“So when you came courting this new Harley plant, it wasn’t just machines and dollars you were about to take. It was all of our livelihoods, and just before Christmas, for goodness sakes.
“One door opens and another closes, someone wiser than I once said. But you have to know if you had won, in Penn the losses would have left us dead.”
And I understood immediately why this message was pure. We feel sadness in defeat, but let us not demure.
For if we had won a new factory in these days of advent, thousands in York soon would have struggled to pay rent.
They would have gone out of work and been hungry, victims just as we understood that. Like we felt in the declines of Buckhorn and our longstanding Leggett & Platt.
Not every winner takes a victory for all. For every great rise today, somebody has to fall.
So perhaps, yes, we lost a potential new toy, but in that loss we have allowed others to spend this Christmas with some much-needed peace and joy.newfound peace and joy.