Rust: The Longest War by Jonathan Waldman

Rust: The Longest War by Jonathan Waldman

Author:Jonathan Waldman [Waldman, Jonathan]
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi, azw3
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: 2015-03-09T22:00:00+00:00

In the studio, Dunmire asked Burton to take two. “It popped or something,” he said. “Something went wrong. Could you do it again?” Burton, reading from page 3, said, “All that iron and steel must be constantly protected from rust.”

A few takes later, just as Burton was about to start, the audio guy raised his hand. A truck had pulled up outside the studio and left its engine grumbling. Everybody could hear it. Lord said it was the FedEx truck, and waited. Burton took a seat. One of the PAs ran outside and came back reporting that it was the water guy. Cook said, “Tell him to hurry up.” Lord, in the meantime, decided to keep rolling.

Burton soon announced, “Let’s face it, rust happens everywhere, and it affects everyone. Most of us don’t even pay attention to it until something goes wrong. And when it does go wrong, the consequences can be disastrous. Here’s what happens when corrosion results in a worst-case scenario. In 1967 the Silver Bridge across the Ohio River between Ohio and West Virginia collapsed. Forty-six people were killed. A single corrosion-induced crack only a tenth of an inch deep was the cause. The Defense Department may be leading the fight against corrosion, but the crusade extends to the entire country.”

“Okay, great,” Lord said. “Let’s do that again.”

Dunmire said, “You added the word even. Nice add, LeVar.”

Burton did another take. “Congress chose the Department of Defense to lead our war on corruption—” He stopped and walked offstage. He meant corrosion, not corruption—though either was a formidable enemy. Lord said, “I hate when that happens.”

As Burton resumed, the truck rumbled to life and pulled out of the driveway, beeping as it backed up. Burton stopped and looked down. Dunmire removed his headphones. The audio guy raised a hand and held the other to his right ear. He held the position for a few minutes. Everyone stood by. Then a plane flew overhead, and the standing by continued. Eventually Burton resumed.

“Modern history is littered with corrosion disasters,” he said. Lord said, “Great, that’s it.” Yet the gravitas of the disasters failed to capture anyone in the room. It wasn’t great at all. Burton’s tale—as convincing as any story about rust could be—was just another sales pitch, like any of the infomercials produced in the studio.

If the script sounded like a blend of evening news, Entertainment Tonight, and National Geographic, it’s because Darryl Rehr, its author, worked at all three. He’s covered Rodney King and O. J. Simpson, tornadoes and train crashes, gas explosions and gamma ray bursts.

Summoning more concern, Burton said, “The annual cost of corrosion to the United States amounts to three-point-one percent of our gross domestic product. In the year 2011, that came to something like four hundred and eighty billion dollars a year—more than fifteen hundred dollars for every man, woman, and child in the country, over six thousand dollars for a family of four! Ouch.” He put a lot of emphasis on the word ouch. Dunmire liked it, and echoed, “Ouch.


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