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Reflecting On A Split Second Choice


Denim&Venöm

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So today at work, before we all left, one of our older co-workers, our departments fork lift driver, had something to say to us at the end of our Toolbox Talk (AKA Here's some new saftey guide lines to listen to and paperwork to sign). On a serious note, he said that he'd worked with a lot and he meant a lot of crews on our factory floor. And he could honestly say, that we were among the finest he worked with.

 

and I'm like "Holy shiznit. We really made that much of a difference?"

 

He said that he were among the best and that he was proud of all of us. (Except for Paul. Or as he was described: "This part-timing pile of s--t sitting over here!").

 

Every day after I left work, I always thought I put in a good day and did a lot, doing my damnedest to get the company caught up so I could experience what a normal 40 hour work week was like one day. It pays well. I don't hate or dread what I do. And the company treats us well. Each day, I'm sort of content with what I'm doing and what I got done.

 

And I look back and think, while I would've ended up working for the same company doing the same job in the end; the path, the experience, my outlook, perhaps even my reputation, could've been very different.

 


Lets' rewind a bit.

 

It started about 5 months ago, with my dead end grocery job. I didn't like it since the day I was let go from my job at a historical society. And I grew to hate it even worse as the years went by. I'm not a people person. I prefer doing my own thing. And that thing is not dressing like a corporate intern (we later switched to ugly polo shirts) bagging groceries at the whim of rural towns folk. What did I get for my troubles? An employee discount, a weekly changing schedule, and minimum wage.

 

I was probably gonna quit one day for one reason or another. And I found my excuse when my hours began to decline. My pay was piss poor already, but now my disposable income was forecast to dwindle even further. So I had more than enough motive to leave, but not anywhere to go once I did.

 

Luckily, opportunity was on the horizon, and all I had to do was look half a mile from my house to the town assembly plant. And what luck, they were hiring. And offering better pay. W/ a full time position. Not easy to find those in this economy.

 

So I would have to drive about 45 minutes, weaving and winding through forests, fields and all sorts of hills out in the countryside, to a middle of nowhere town that looked like the type of thing you'd see in a natural disaster movie before it was wiped out by a tornado. Into the headquarters of the staffing agency who would be handling my application. And by headquarters, I mean something that looked like a rustic mom and pop store front. It was even right next to a TV repair shop.

 

But I'm getting distracted.

 

I did my Q&A tests to see if I was competent and knew the common sense of workplace saftey. I was briefly interviewed. I was told the department I was to be assigned. Then I was asked about which shift I wanted. The 1st shift, which was from 7am-3pm. Or the 2nd, from 3pm-11am.

 

I had had my eyes on 2nd, but the hours weren't quite what I expected for either shift. I anticipated that like most jobs I'd start in the late morning or around noon. Then I'd get off between 5-8pm and have the evening to myself. But at that rate, I'd work the evening and sleep away the day, leaving my free time in the dead of night.

 

First shift wasn't quite what I wanted either. The closer to an afternoon position I could get, the better. So, very quickly taking into consideration the things I liked to do, and whatever time I could spend with my family, as well as my reservations for the hours of second shift, I made a snap decision, and asked if I could apply for 1st.

 

Luckily for me, there were openings. Cause if there weren't, my experience could've turned out differently.

 


In the weeks and months after I started, I noticed that I was in the company of a rather experienced bunch. Some who had been with the company at least 6 months before me, and some who had been working together for years. Guys who either had been working this job for a while, or had been working a long time in general. Dudes with discipline and professionalism. Pretty much the closest thing I had to training & coaching, as I was pretty much thrown into the thick of things on day one.

 

But everyday, we would receive a red painted rolling rack, labeled 'non-conforming parts', which were parts that had defects, got scratched or bent in transit, didn't have enough paint or just packaged and shipped wrong. Parts that needed to be re-done. And more often than not, these came from the 2nd shift.

 

And oh boy, did they ever come from 2nd shift.

 

In the stacking, arranging, piling, organization & movement of parts, there's a bit of common sense. Don't put parts atop each other unless there's something to buffer them in between. Stack smaller parts atop of bigger or wider ones. Don't put steel parts atop of aluminium ones. Don't let edges or corners come into contact with surfaces. Keep loads balanced. And if parts can interlock, do so, so that they're packed tighter together in transit. Don't hang too many parts up to be done. Just a little common sense.

 

2nd shift doesn't have this.

 

Pictures would be taken of loads stacked too high. Parts on rolling racks would be inserted facing the wrong ways, sometimes with their edges digging into other parts. So many parts would be hung that you couldn't even get to the work bench. Just a solid winding wall of parts to be sanitized, primed and painted. Which the guys next door absolutely hate. We'd even get orders sent back to us from other plants because the parts were so stupidly packaged that they inevitably got damaged in transit (why the guys in packaging and shipping didn't say anything is beyond me). So many parts to be fixed. So much more to be added to our already stuffed work loads.

 

And this was the legacy of excellence I could've been a part of. Instead of working with a team of veterans to show me the ropes, I'd probably be tagging with a bunch of high schoolers. Heck, their shift manager is probably a high schooler, with how he doesn't exactly check for quality, or attempt to set the crew straight, as this keeps happening over and over. I heard that 2nd shift has less work to do. So why do they suck at it still!? Maybe they do 'work' 'harder'. According to said shift manager, talking to my shift manager, he said that some nights, his guys work harder than us. Heck, even my shift manager admitted he had to bite his tongue on the nerve of that remark.

 

And maybe that's what they lack. Veteran workers to show them how things are done and what quality is. My plant is short staffed. The older work force has moved on. Best you can hope for is that they learn from their mistakes someday (soon).

 


But there's being incompetent in your job. And than there's being total scumbags.

 

These last few days, the plant had been prepping for the holidays. Each department would have it's own little 'office' party of sorts. And each department would bring their own food. But the company was also gonna provide everyone with a roast beef sandwich dinner. And they had 1st, 2nd and 3rd shifts all prepared for.

 

But you know what they didn't prepare for?

 

2nd shift. Eating all of the ham and roast beef that was reserved for the 3rd shift crews on the next night.

 

When the managers of 3rd shift leave a message on a paper plate 'thanking' 2nd shift for eating all of their holiday meal to be, and when Human Resources puts up signs on the rest of the food telling 2nd shift not to eat any of those either, you know you done bucked up.

 

Wow. Just. Wow.

 

I wanna buy 3rd shift a pizza for their troubles now. Actually screw that, I wanna hold all of 2nd shift at gun point and make them order fresh meals for all those on the graveyard shift.

 

That. That would've been the glorious grand legacy I would've been a part of. Instead of learning on the way, I'd keep making the same mistakes, probably getting frustrated and loosing my confidence (even more than usual). Instead of thinking I did a good days work, I'd get told that a bunch of our parts now have to be fixed. Instead of being praised, we'd be called lazy behind our backs. And now I would've had to go home with the guilt that I put a damper on the next shifts holiday festivities.

 

And it was all thanks to that one off the cuff decision to switch my hours, that I ended up in the right place at the right time with the right people. I don't know where I'd be or how'd I'd be feeling right now if I didn't make that gamble. And for now, my future is pretty steady. I don't know if I want to do this forever. But where I am in life, my current situation, this is workign out pretty well.

 

For once, I don't really have to wonder 'what if' on this one.

 

For those that care, thanks for reading!

 

Happy heartwarming everypony!
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And may second shift get coal in their stockings.

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