Wednesday, December 21, 2011

On Moonlighting and Christmas, sort of

For the past week I have been working the graveyard shift at a plastic sheet manufacturing plant. The job I perform there is simple: I work at the end of the line either stacking sheets on pallets or cutting up unacceptable pieces to get them ready for the grinder. I am doing the work that a million-dollar robot would be doing otherwise.

When all is going well, the job is easy: stacking and counting sheets and sweeping and dumping shavings from the mill heads. When anything is out of whack, the job is painful: the mill cuts bad parts out in sixteen-inch lengths; I have to peel protective wrap from both sides, carry the piece to the band saw, cut it into four pieces and stack them in a box. The ones we dealt with last night were five feet wide and five-eighths of an inch thick--kind of heavy--and they came off the line practically non-stop for nearly seven hours of my eight-hour shift.

There are two other men working the same shift. Alton is the de facto foreman; he has worked at the plant for several years, so he knows most of the arcana concerning the front of the line. Julian was hired two or three weeks before I started, so he's allowed to operate the fork lift. For a group of guys who didn't know each other a month ago, we work really well together, like a team with several seasons behind it; it's impressive.

I took the job because in this crappy economy the demand for my painting services has practically disappeared; at this time of year it is non-existent. The training wage I'm earning now is half what I make painting; it's not quite enough to make ends meet. It should slow the hemorrhaging to a trickle, though, and hopefully I'll pick up some painting jobs soon. At least I'm doing something to try to make it.

Christmas is on credit (and not very much of it); I think we've managed to keep it under two hundred dollars. I have no fancy watch to hawk to get money to buy Carrie a set of combs for her hair, which means she won't have to sell her hair in order to get me a fancy fob chain. Sharing Brendan and Cullen's delight will have to be gift enough for both of us; can't you just feel the love?


deliverytoeurope said...

It certainly is manual work, what you are doing in a warehouse, but essential for when drivers are doing a delivery to Europe.

Palm Springs Savant said...

Just stopped by to wish you a (belated) Merry Christmas, Corky.


Anonymous said...

perhaps peter's your poor painting prospects might make him reconsider his stance on occupy wall street. the banks certainly are not in need of tight bugdets at christmas