Resisting work in harvest time

Tad, a combine driver, recounts sabotaging machines in order to get a break from work on Texas farms.

Submitted by Steven. on October 16, 2009

I got a job with a custom cutter, the people who follow the wheat harvest from Texas on up to North Dakota every summer. The combines we were using were a new model series on loan from International Harvester. A fleet of eight or ten of us went along in a big row through the fields and checked out the new models to see how they were performing.

We were all pretty young, between fourteen and twenty-two, and would rather flick off than sit on these things for twelve hours a day. Once or twice a week we would slug the combine, which means we'd cause the combine to feed up so much material that it would bind up the cylinder inside the machine. We would shut down two or three machines. Then they would set them aside and take us off the field. International Harvester representatives would come out, tear apart the machines, and try and figure out what the fuck was going on.

We did this intentionally so we could slack off. We got a kick out of these guys with ties and clipboards going over the machine. We thought this was tremendously funny because they seemed very concerned since they had millions of dollars at stake. It was beyond them to think that we would do something like that because, like most employers, they thought their employees were a lot dumber than they really were. I think this is true for most non-unionized, off-the-street labor. They generally assume that you will never pull any stunts. Everybody on the job was in cahoots together. We got to sit around in hotel rooms while they looked over the machines.
Text taken from Sabotage in the American workplace: anecdotes of dissatisfaction, mischief and revenge from