For a year, from February 2012 to January 2013, I temped part-time in a print shop, Graphic Arts Center, in a large NW Portland building situated between the Fremont Bridge and Montgomery Park. It's my most recent industrial job, one with ear plugs and heavy lifting where, yes, I was trusted with machines. (Running the freight elevator was a treat. Felt like I was in the elevator from Aliens.) I loaded and unloaded paper from the presses, such as brochures, mailings, packages, and instruction cards. Once when a printer was having trouble with its automatic ink feed, I got the job of literally pouring buckets of ink into it and troweling that ink. I got to run an industrial trash compactor. No, I didn't drive any vehicles (I'm not certified for forklifts), but I did get to operate battery-powered jacks to move big stuff.
Graphic Arts Center was an institution. It's been there for literally decades, often running 24 hours a day; some of the people I worked with had been at GAC since before I was born, and no I am not exaggerating. It's in one of the heavy industrial neighborhoods of Portland (though a few houses are nearby), an area where the TV show Leverage pretended to blow up a warehouse a few blocks away. Not much farther than that, there's the neighborhood anchored by the roads 21st and 23rd Ave., or as they're also known, Trendy-First and Trendy-Third; quite a contrast to Industrial Portland. Both neat places, in their different ways, to visit.
That big, one-a-half-block-sized complex will be redeveloped this year for different industrial and, possibly, commercial uses, and renamed The Hopper. From the schematic linked at this entry's start, it looks like a good chunk of the building (at least its southwest corner) will stay put. But the current jobs there are going away: GAC's owners are laying off 91 people. That most likely still includes people I worked with.
Honestly, I would not have minded working at Graphic Arts Center again; I even considered reapplying there, as opposed to certain jobs I would not want to return to. It was measurable, concrete work: do this, get that taken care of, help out over there. You were allowed to be loud, because THAT WAS THE ONLY WAY TO BE HEARD; I try not to be a shouter, but it was okay to be one there. Kind of a nice little release. (No, I won't be the jackass who shouts in an office; that's the wrong place to shout.) The building has all sorts of neat nooks and crannies, and was fun to explore. It was also a place where people didn't look askance at me for reading on breaks; I read a lot in 2012, 84 books to be exact.
It was a place I went and a thing I did, for a year. It was a place other people went for years or decades. And soon it will be something else, as Portland keeps evolving. I hope the people who are getting laid off find another place to work and be productive.