(Notice: Multiple disjointed paragraphs covering various subjects within the same topic to follow.)
As you may have heard, I recently got a job. This article will be discussing various subjects regarding that job, without discussing the actual business end itself. You won’t know what I do or for whom I work, but you’ll get a feel for other matters.
The job I work runs 24/7, which means there are four different 12-hour rotating shifts, three days (or nights) one week and four days (or nights) the next. I am away from home 14.5 to 15 hours per day when I’m scheduled to work, meaning my days/nights off are spent in recovery sleep mode. And that’s fine with me. I’ve worked 12-hour shifts on previous jobs. But being sedentary by nature on my time off, I don’t get the opportunity to do much else.
The business where I work utilizes two different temp-to-hire formats: their own in-house temp service which starts out at 10 dollars per hour and an outside temp service which starts out at 8 dollars per hour. Lucky me, I got to go through the outside service. C’est la vie, c’est la guerre. Part of the temp-to-hire program is completing an “A” packet to become an “A” operator (the bottom of the full-time status, contrary to my previous job where my “A” operator status was the top). You cannot get hired in full-time without its completion. With the outside temp service, once the “A” packet is completed there is a 50 cent raise in pay, and at the end of three months, full-time at 10.25 (2.5 percent raise expected at the beginning of the year). With the inside temp service, full-time status is reached at the end of six weeks. Through both means, the vast majority of temps are in their early 20s. This will be important to remember.
The company does not have Shift Supervisors or Department Supervisors. There are other names for it (abbreviated to TL and RRL respectively), and other responsibilities. It is much more team oriented and much more familial. If the boss wears a t-shirt and jeans instead of a tie and trousers and has his own gloves instead of a manicure, it is very difficult to create the proletariat/bourgeoisie combative, adversarial, class struggle atmosphere which is a requirement for today’s Liberalism/Communism/Socialism (in the end, it’s all the same) to survive or even get a foot-hold.
I am having difficulties getting my “A” packet completed but have been assured that when the time comes, they will “do what’s necessary” to have it completed. Of course, this means my pay raise will be much later than necessary. But it’s actually because I’m too good as opposed to not good enough. While the company has been in business at that location for over 30 years without ever having a lay-off, it has been bought several times, the last time very recently. Another plant elsewhere in the state was closed and its machinery moved to this location. That has meant each of the 4 shifts have had sudden increases in size, from about 26 employees per shift (plus the “day shift” of administrative personnel) to about 54 employees per shift. And the new-to-the-plant machinery is much older and much less automated than the old-to-the-plant machinery, and is much more problematic in bringing on-line.
The “new” equipment requires people who are much faster and more efficient than the “old” equipment. And therein lies the rub. While the people there consider the “new” equipment work to be fast-paced, it doesn’t hold a candle to the pace I needed for the job I held the vast majority of the previous decade (April 2000 to November 2008). Granted, it’s non-stop motion and busy, busy, busy. But it doesn’t qualify as “fast paced” from my own experience. I’ve only worked a day and a half on the “old” equipment, the rest of the time being on the “new” equipment — which hasn’t gotten all the gremlins eradicated. That means two things: 1) I cannot get the “new” equipment items checked off in the “A” packet, and 2) the RRL who needs to check off the “old” equipment items is too busy working to eradicate the gremlins to check off my “A” packet.
The TL, the RRL for the “new” equipment, the RRL for the “old” equipment, the operators of the new and old equipment have all noted my speed, initiative in finding work to do when the machines go down, and overall lack of need for any supervision at all. And whichever machine I’ve worked with, the operator for that machine wanted me to be assigned there (and for whoever was assigned there to be reassigned elsewhere). But since the “new” equipment that I don’t want to be on and have been on almost exclusively needs the faster workers, I have not had much luck in getting on the “old” equipment where I prefer to be.
While it is possible to handle my job on two lines at once on the “old” machines, it is necessary to have two people per line on the “new” machines. And that causes another problem. I’m stuck on the “new” machines, and 90 percent of the time, I’m carrying the weight of the other person (who is in his or her early 20s while I’m in my mid 40s) on my back while I’m doing the work. I absolutely do not mind working hard for my pay. I absolutely hate carrying someone else, especially when that someone else is making 2 dollars an hour more than me to do the same job. The RRLs and operators have noticed, with one RRL talking to multiple people about it (I heard second-hand because she has not once talked to me about it). “I wish John could give some of his energy to the other people he’s working with, to even it out more.”
So I’m getting noticed by all the right people. I’m noticed for my speed and “rewarded” by being put where nobody wants to be, but because it requires much more speed and constant attention (and lots more frustration due to all the gremlins). And my 50 cent pay raise will come later than other, slower, less attentive, people who show less initiative (at least one of whom has already gotten it, having been hired in exactly 1 month ago along with me).
One such slow 23-year-old was working with me on the “new” machine (my carrying over 70 percent of the load). And he is quite indicative of his generation (a product of his environment).
Now would be a good time to describe the difference between new and old, and my responsibilities. Think “I Love Lucy”. Remember when Lucy and Ethyl were in the chocolate factory and chocolates were running down the conveyor belt? That is the example I’m going to use to describe it, but I don’t at all work in the food industry.
On both the old and the new, the chocolates are put in boxes called chips, then a certain number of chips are put in cartons. Those cartons are then palletized, stretch-wrapped, and placed on a conveyor.
The old equipment opens the chips, puts the chocolates in the chips, seals the chips, sends the chips down a conveyor where they are inspected for quality and passed on to the cartoner, which opens the cartons, puts the correct number of chips in the cartons, tapes the cartons and spits the cartons out onto another conveyor for palletizing. In this circumstance, my job is to retrieve the chips from the staging area, feed the chip feeder chips, get the cartons from the staging area, feed the cartoner cartons, inspect the chips for quality, palletize the cartons, stretch-wrap the pallets, take the pallets to another conveyor. It is possible for me to handle two lines at once.
The new equipment sends the chocolates down a conveyor for the operator to place in chips, as the separate chip feeder opens the chips, seals the chips, sends the chips out onto a long table, then the operator opens the cartons, places the appropriate number of chips in the cartons, sends the cartons through the taper which spits the cartons out onto a conveyor, where the operator palletizes the cartons. My job (which requires two people) is to retrieve the chips from the staging area and feed the chip-feeder, place the chocolates in the chips, retrieve the cartons from the staging area and place them under the table where the chip-feeder spits the sealed chips out, open the cartons, place the appropriate number of chips in the cartons, close the cartons, send the cartons through the taper, take the cartons off the conveyor and palletize them, stretch-wrap the pallets, take the pallets to another conveyor. With the new equipment, one person is filling the chips while the other is filling the cartons.
Working on the “new” equipment, when I am filling the cartons, I also fill the chip-feeder, get the chips and cartons, palletize and stretch-wrap the cartons, take the completed pallets over to the next conveyor, while making sure no chips fall off the table. When I am filling the chips, I also fill the chip-feeder, get the chips, make sure no chips fall off the table as the 23-year-old is stretch-wrapping and moving the completed pallets. While the jobs are supposed to rotate every hour, or at least every two hours, I spend 8 to 12 hours filling the chips (a much more busy position, even when evenly balanced). And my work ethic is noticed by all the right people (but not necessarily by the 23-year-old who lets me carry his load with mine).
There was an occasion where the 23-year-old came in and replaced another who was filling the cartons. The other person had left the carton conveyor full of cartons when he left, so the 23-year-old had to gossip with me about that. While I was taking the “chocolates” off the conveyor and placing them in the chips, he stood between the chip feeder and me in order to maliciously gossip about the other person. “Look at how your boy left you.” I had to shove him out of the way to fill the chips — which were rolling by — with the “chocolates” — which were also rolling by. Once I got to a stage where I was caught up,
I stepped down to the table where he was filling the cartons with chips. I then told him “First off, nobody is my boy, period. Second off, if you cannot talk to me without getting in my way, don’t talk to me.” His response? “You need to respect me!” As if respect is a right granted to him (which he doesn’t need to grant others) instead of something earned. Product of his environment.
I had the opportunity to work alongside a girl of roughly the same (23 year old) age. (Sorry, folks, but if you’re 23, you’re not yet a man or woman. You’re too inexperienced. You’re still a boy or girl.) The difference between him and her? She’s married and has children while he’s still single. And that, I believe, makes a big difference. When she doesn’t have someone she likes around to chat her up, she’s attentive to the job. Still slow and less able to do the task than me, but much more attentive and with a higher work ethic. But when someone’s chatting her up, she becomes inattentive. With nobody else around, we work about 60-40 or 55-45, where I carry the bulk of the load. But that split is much more (grudgingly) acceptable to me.
She and I have had a few conversations while we worked, with one such conversation being specifically about him. She brought it up. She told me that he told her that I refused to talk to him. (Gossipy enough for you?) I then explained the above incident where he got in my way in order to gossip about someone else, preventing me from doing my job. I told her “if you can’t talk to me without getting in my way, don’t talk to me.” She chuckled about that. I also told her how he demanded my respect without ever having earned it first. She seemed to partially understand. Further in the conversation, speaking in general terms and sort of about him, I said “If you can’t talk and work at the same time, work.” She got a big laugh out of that one.
Like him, she is a product of her environment. But unlike him, her environment includes the responsibility of being a spouse and a parent. That, I believe, is what helps her to be more attentive to the job and more capable of handling the job, albeit not up to appropriate standards as yet.
And what environment am I talking about? “The most important person in the world to you is you and you hardly even know you.” That insidious 1970s TV jingle. The Leftist-run public education system which is so fearful of harming the feelings of the children that it cannot demand the children actually accomplish anything, but rather tells the children they deserve a great self-worth without credentials, a great amount of respect from others without any deeds or character traits worthy of respect. That is the environment I am talking about. Today’s twenty-somethings are a product of the Liberal public education system and the Liberal State University system where self-respect and self-worth are completely divorced from accomplishments of any sort, any abilities, or any Personal Responsibility. And the 23-year-old boy’s attitudes are indicative of that.