What strikes me first, what hits my nostrils and the back of my throat is a kind of burnt smell. It reminds me of a horse being hot shoed-tangy and singed. The smell coats your skin too, like a gritty sort of oily feeling.
It’s huge. Standing off to the side, watching it spin the long, wide belts powering the thresh machine cannot compare to how big it feels standing in the “pilot’s box” looking out at the power you’re standing inside of and controlling. Throttled up, the vibration resounds through your bones—you see the spouts dripping oil to lubricate and hear the pop and fizz of the governor as it opens and closes spinning around.
He explains to me how it all works, but it is loud and I have a hard time hearing him even though I’m desperately focused on his words because I want so badly to run this beautiful machine. He’s shown me the throttle and clutch and how to shut the gas off. Then, he steps down and I am kind of panicked that he’s leaving me to run it when the thresh machine and all those guys are counting on this machine to do what it is supposed to do.
What if they signal me to stop it or need it to go faster and I can’t remember how? Terrible scenarios flood my mind—chaos and mayhem, belts flying off, bundles crashing, the machine bolting forward and running into the thresh machine.
Take a breath. Out of the corner of my eye, I see him, leaning an arm on the machine and I know it’s safe. He won’t let anything happen, will tell me what to do if it’s needed. Soon enough, he returns to stand beside me and when the signal comes to power down, he helps me. I pull the clutch, but not far enough. He pulls it back, throttles it down and shuts off the gas. “How was it, “ he asks.