It’s been more than a year since I last posted. It’s not that I haven’t had ideas; it’s that I’ve had crippling self-doubt about the relevance of my subject matter. I’ll start composing a post and I’ll be half-way through it, then go, “No one would want to read that rubbish.”, and I’ll cancel the document without saving and go to YouTube and binge-watch cute pet videos or something.
Recently, though, I’ve had an experience that just demanded to be shared with the class. Since my last post, I’ve been promoted(?) to the position of Material Handler. I’d become increasingly bored with being a Machine Operator over the last few years and had applied, unsuccessfully, a few times for the position. When the last opening occurred I didn’t even bother, thinking that I wouldn’t get the job anyhow.
That said, my supervisor went on vacation for a week and the Production Manager filled in for him. The second day the P/M was there, he asked if I was still interested in the Material Handler’s job, I said I was but hadn’t bothered since I was never chosen. He told me to fill out an application and put in on his desk `by the end of the week’. I had one done by break-time and on his desk before lunch.
Surprise! I was chosen to be the latest in a round of M/Hs who get hired, work for a few weeks, and then disappear. That was the first step; the next step was to be trained. I’d filled in for the M/H many times before this and was a pretty good half-trained monkey, but `nooo’, you’ve got to transfer to the Day Shift so that the M/H lead hand can go item by item through the, largely irrelevant, check-list. When that was done, I got to do some unpleasant donkey work that is the responsibility of the M/H Lead, but that, not surprisingly, he didn’t want to have to do.
Next, I got trained on how to drive a fork-lift. Driving a fork-lift is absolutely nothing like driving a car; it starts, stops, steers, and handles nothing like anything you’ve driven on the roads. Being trained on Fork Lift Operation took most of a week, two and a half days in class, half a day getting familiarized with a fork lift, and two days moving things with the fork lift, while being shadowed by a licensed operator. Thanks to warnings from others who’d undergone the same training I had, I passed the test the first time. I probably would have anyway; I’m a little paranoid while driving around pedestrians and obstacles.
So, the training that should have taken maybe two-three weeks, max, lasted six. They wanted to train another person on fork lift at the same time as me to maximize the cost-benefit ratio. That meant I was constantly chosen to do the fiddly, annoying jobs that were other people’s responsibility, sweep the parking lot, clean up the smoker’s area, sort boxes by content into their proper areas, rearrange the cardboard area, combine two, or more, half-empty bins into as few as possible, etc, ad nauseam.
Finally, they let me escape the illogical, regimented Hell that is Day Shift, back to the cool, calm insanity that is Nights. “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”, that’s French for same shit, different day.
That said, when the two-week long Plant Slowdown rolled around, the Plant Manager came up to me and asked which week I wanted to work. When I said, “Neither?”, he told me that wasn’t the answer he was looking for. Sigh. I bit the bullet and worked the first week; four days, twelve hours each.