When I meet someone for the first time, I invariably get asked this very question. I cringe everytime I get asked even though I should easily be able to answer. I didn't really know how to respond at first. Now I have a script that I just repeat trying not to sound like I know exactly what their response will be. But, without a doubt it always goes one of two ways. I'll reply that I'm a longshoreman. Most people will give me a blank stare and ask, "... a what? What is that?" Then I'm obliged to explain a job that they have never even heard of or have a vague understanding of in about 30 seconds, about the time it takes for them to get bored with my explanation. So in the interest of time and not wanting to hold an impromptu longshoreman 101 course, I just say, "I'm a dock worker. I do work related to the loading and unloading of cargo at the port." On a rare occasion I'll get a person whos relative is a longshoreman. Without fail they then say something like, "You make pretty good money don't you." And we do make good money and have generous benefits, but that is offset by dangerous work conditions and at times long hours or infrequent work opportunities. If you're making lots of money as a longshoreman you probably have been doing it for 20 plus years, are living on the docks, taking 7 or 8 shifts a week, and working both days and nights. We have a saying in this industry, "Only the strong survive."
I created this blog to shed a little light on what longshoremen do and to share some things about my life as a longshoreman. So if anyone has any questions or comments don't hesitate to leave your feedback. I'll probably post as I get ideas or get requests.