Cotton Compress


Cotton compressing was all they did across the street. The economics and presumed profitability fascinated Randolph.  How long does it take to train a near-illiterate man to operate the powerful machines that squeezes the cotton as tightly as earthly physics allows?  How much time and money do the bosses and owners lose to the idiosyncratic ways of his workers’ ilk, their fickleness or prevalence for sickness and lies?  How do you account for losing productivity to actual aches and pains lodged deeply into their backs and legs?  How many fuel draining railroad trips are subsequently saved by having those noisy machines squeeze six oversized cubes of cotton into the space of one?  What deals secured the land beside the railroad tracks? What clandestine negotiations determined the allowable regulated density of the compressed bales? Engineers, accountants, mathematicians, politicians, financiers…a hundred smart men must have reasoned through a hundred ideas to produce the logistics that created the employment that paid the wages that produced the nickels traded daily for Aunt Sarah’s forsaken stew.

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