Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Sluice John-B

One of my first jobs was a blood donor. It was the summer of '99, and I didn't make much money. But in those days all us kids had our second incomes, what with all the pregnant women we had to take care of. It was known affectionately as moonlighting, and I chose as my moonlight vocation the scrub boy at a quaint family-owned slaughtering house just outside Newport. I saw my fair share of kill floors-- the magical place filled with the wandering spirits of unrepentant cows. But what is a kill floor, you ask? It's not as scary as it sounds. I will defer to Mr McClure....

"It's not really a floor. It's more of a steel grating that allows material to sluice through so it can be collected and exported."

That's right, Troy. Except in this case, it is a floor. It's a floor with chains of hooks hanging down from the ceiling and buckets of entrails lying around. The floor was stained with....cotton candy, and the hooks were rusted with....cotton candy juice. In the freezers directly adjacent to the kill floor were huge carcasses hanging from hooks. But you are right about one thing, Troy: collection and exportation is the name of the game.

You may not realize this, but the cow is the 21st century whale, and the faceless, all-american meat producer is the infamous (that is, more than famous) generic Aleutian chief. Buckets, and I' talkin barrels of cow guts were lined up around the facility. And this aint your grandma's guts neither -- we're talking windpipes, rectum, whole organ systems, mostly the circulatory variety, although the vestibular system made an appearance now and again (don't ask how). And where does this offallular cornucopia finish it's terrible journey from grass-fed monotony to spikes and chainsaws?

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