Unsteady cranes could kill you. Rogue forklifts could kill you. Molten zinc could kill you. There are so many ways to die in the steel mill. Terrified, but determined, Eliese Goldbach pulled on her protective gear, donned an orange hard hat that marked her as a newbie and started her career as a steel worker. In Rust: A Memoir of Steel and Grit Goldbach describes in fascinating detail her work in a Cleveland steel mill and how that work saved her life.
Once Goldbach was a sweet little Catholic girl with big dreams that involved leaving Cleveland. She would be a nun, help the poor and save the world. Her dreams and her faith were shattered, however, after a violent incident at college left her traumatized and her bipolar disorder incapacitated her. Financially broke and mentally broken, the steel mill seemed like a positive step forward.
To her surprise, the steel mill was just what she needed to get her life together. It wasn’t just the paycheck – getting a job in the steel mill in Cleveland in 2016 was a little like winning the lottery – it was the power she felt from overcoming her fears and the pride she took in producing steel. As she was banding steel coils or stirring zinc she connected with other blue-collar workers and forged her own ideas on feminism, politics and spirituality.