Living in Society Writing

Postcards from Iowa #2

Underwood Motel, Schererville, Indiana. Photo Credit: Latimer Studios, Aurora, Illinois.

Text on the postcard: “Underwood Motel, 1100 Lincoln Highway, Schererville, Indiana 46375. Heated Pool – Air Conditioned – Room Phones – Free TV – Honor Most Credit Cards – Located on U.S. #30 – Just West of U.S. #41 Near Calumet Expressway to Chicago Loop. Phone: 219-865-2451. Handwritten note: $19.80 per night.

When I transferred with work to manage a Schererville, Indiana trucking terminal for a company called Lincoln Sales and Service, I stayed at the Underwood Motel. It took a while to manage our move, maybe six to eight weeks. We ended up buying a house in nearby Merrillville, Indiana.

Our fuel attendant worked at the motel and that plus the low price is why I stayed there.

The six years we lived in Northwest Indiana were busy. It would change my view of work forever. The country was in transition from what it was post World War II, to what it is now. Due to the Reagan revolution, it was hard on workers. I lost track of how many potential drivers I interviewed during this time… more than ten thousand. Theirs was a story of dehumanization of workers laid off by companies that felt they had to to be “competitive,” whatever that meant. It was a time of ubiquitous management consulting firms who restructured businesses to direct more revenue and earnings to owners, share holders, and high-level managers. It was busy because most of the time I worked in uncharted territory with little guidance unless there was a lawsuit or workers compensation claim.

I’m glad for the experience. I hated the experience. In the crucible of manufacturing in transition, thousands of workers were trying to adjust. I was there to listen and heard one hella story. I hired some of them, doing what I could to ease the transition.