By Daniel Skora
“Ford has a Better Idea” said one of FoMoCo’s slogans dreamed up by its advertising company several years ago in an attempt to convince the buying public that they were the better automobile builder of the Big Three and you ought to consider making your new car purchase from them. Implicit in their slogan was their belief that they were better than the other two in all phase of the automobile business…which would include the manufacturing process. Just maybe that claim was stretching it a bit too much.
In 1986, Ben Hamper, a former assembly line worker at General Motors’ Flint plant, published a book called “Rivethead”, his first hand experiences of years spent working on the GM assembly line as a riveter for trucks and busses. It was a good read, filled with all the stuff that auto makers don’t want you to know about how and by whom cars are made in their assembly plants. The book was rife with dishy things that made life on the assembly line seem like a daily skirmish, what with constant company/union hassles, absenteeism, drinking on the job, and getting paid for skipping out of work.
Now along comes Tim Campos who tells a similar story about his nine years working on a Ford assembly line. And because it’s live and in color, his one-man self-written stage show is funnier and more engaging than the pages of any book could ever hope to be. “Screw It: Doin’ Time on the Line” proves that there really are no better ideas when it comes to combining the human element with the assembly of automobile. To the above list of the daily skirmishes, Campos adds monotony, pranks (sabotage?), and a good deal more about first days on the job and his final farewell. He plays over three dozen characters in the show, a good many of them who are nothing less than quirky. His performance is physical, the working man’s sweat that pours out honest and refreshing.
Papa used to say “Never buy a car that was made on a Monday or a Friday”. After watching Tim Campos’ highly entertaining first hand exposé, we now add Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to the list.
The show is directed by Antoine McKay. Sound is by Ken Faulk, lighting by John Jakary. “Screw It: Doin’ Time on the Line” by Five Cents Short Productions runs through Sunday October 30th for a limited one-week engagement. Performances are being held at Theatre Nova’s Yellow Barn, 410 West Huron Street Ann Arbor, tucked away in the parking lot across from the YMCA. Dress, if you want to blend in with the majority, is blue-collar casual. Call the theatre’s box office at 734.635.8450 for ticket availability.