Working with lazy people

Its always boggled me how lazy some people can be when there’s one thing that no one wishes to do.

There’s a cardboard baler where I work.  Since the vast majority of the products that we get in are packed in corrugated cardboard, the baler gets quite a workout day to day.  When it’s full, it needs to be shut down, opened, wires run through it, tied off, and the machine spits out the bale once chains are attached to the compressing ram.  The bale falls onto a wooden pallet, the pallet is put on a trailer destined for the warehouse and the whole process begins anew.  The recurring problem lies with who gets to make the bale.  None of the department people want to do it.  They’d rather fill up the baler and leave it for someone else to take care of.  As a matter of fact, on a day like today, those same people filled the baler to a such a degree, it was nearly impossible to get the bale made safely.

On one of my trips to the baler Tuesday morning, I encountered the deli manager throwing her cardboard into the already overfilled machine.  She looked up at me and said “Looks like a bale needs to be made” and proceeded to walk off.  I called out to her rather loudly “the baling wire is right over there, if you wish to give me a hand WE can make one…” and she turned, shook her head and walked off, not a care in the world.

It’s not my responsibility to make a bale.  But I certainly know how.  I learned many years ago, and have taught countless people how to do it.  It’s pretty simple, and a single person can do it alone if they’re careful.  The sheer number of people that work there and have zero interest in something that would help literally everyone else just boggles me.  It makes no sense to me whatsoever.  Of course, the worst offender is the one person that you would think would have the most to gain by helping out is the store manager.  One day the baler was full, I went to move the pallets of water out of the way while he was in the back room, and he asked me what I was doing.  I told him I needed to make a bale and could use some help.  He recommended I get someone else.  I replied he was available, since he was only using a broom to clean the back room.  Needless to say, he gave me a withering look and in one of the most condescending tones I’ve ever heard from someone in his position might have, he said very plainly “I don’t make bales.”

At that point, I didn’t tell him what I was thinking.  Anything I might have said at that juncture would have more than likely involved not only the union steward (the aforementioned deli manager) and/or our union rep.  So best left unsaid.

It doesn’t take a lot to be helpful.  We get pounded into our heads daily that ‘Customer Service’ is a priority.  Well helping out your fellow employees is a good thing as well.  Pity that it’s so far down on everyone’s to-do list.


Fix-it Man

Over the last five days, I’ve been having some trouble at work with a certain piece of equipment that’s integral for getting my job done more smoothly.  When I came into work on Thursday, I discovered there was a problem with this particular piece of equipment that had started the day before, and it wasn’t going to be an easy fix.  After trying a certain number of things that had worked before, it was still not working correctly.  Our only recourse at this point was to use it for what it could do, but it was unable to successfully tag the products with a price.  That had to be finished at another manual machine, thereby doubling the amount of time in order to put items on the shelf for sale.  I contacted the assistant manager and informed him of the issue, and he said he would make a call for service.

The main issue is, our location is very remote, and the likelihood of a quick service call was also going to be unlikely.  We were aware of this when the piece of equipment was brought to us, and the person that was sent along informed us that service was going to be spotty.  Too, getting supplies for this equipment is problematic, given the distance it has to be delivered from.  Generally there’s only one other of this type of equipment nearby, so shipments have to be doubled and delivered to one central point and our store has to pick it up from there.  Naturally, since we have to drive there, there’s no compensation for gas to get it, so someone ends up getting shafted on that.  It can’t be helped, just the way it is.

At any rate, for the last six days, we’ve been doing this convoluted way of pricing product.  It’s been getting very annoying, and yesterday our assistant store manager called the service place again, as when he checked with us to see if we’d heard anything from them, the simple answer was ‘no, we hadn’t.’  A few hours after he called, we received a call from their technician, asking what the problem was.  Fortunately, I was able to be in on the call and was able to give him in detail what it was supposed to be doing, and what it was actually doing.  Of course, being that my frustration level was about at the nth degree, I gave him probably more information than he needed.  Though, as I expected, his reply wasn’t very comforting.  Issues where he is necessitated that he couldn’t promise a quick fix, or even a service call anytime soon.  So basically he was telling me we were SOL (Shit Out of Luck) for the forseeable future, and we were essentially on our own.  Could be weeks before there was a solution.

Today, I finally got fed up and did a little investigating on my own when I had a free moment.  I remembered what I was told on Thursday morning, about when it started to misbehave.  Using that as a starting point, I went over the part of the machine that wasn’t working correctly and started to see if there was anything unusual there, anything that completely stood out as being incorrect, or out-of-place.  I was just about to give up when I saw it.  There was a rubber roller underneath where the tags are dispensed and it had several blank tags rolled around it, and one of them was slightly sticking up, exposing its glued backing.  That had to be the problem.  I only state this because it had happened on the other side of the machine, where there’s another tag dispenser, and removing the rolled up tags had remedied the situation.  Only it’s in a very inaccessible location, so it took me about ten minutes with a very sharp boning knife to cut the tags free enough to unwind them from the roller.

Once that was done, I re-threaded the tag roll, and re-set the machine.  Crossed my fingers and sent a few packages through.  Success!  It worked.  Wanting to be sure, I did a few more packages and then went through like it had been doing it accurately all its life.  Boom!  I was stoked.  I informed my manager what I had done, showed him what the problem was, though I cautioned him that the machine still needs a tune-up since there are other issues that need to be addressed.  So cancelling the service call would be a bad idea.  But for the time being it’s working the way it was last week before the tags got caught up and it started misbehaving.

So this, and the successful repair of the roto-tiller.  Two for two.  I’m pretty pumped about this.  I can’t fix everything, but I did pretty well in this instance.

Early Riser

It’s just before 8 am on my day off and I’ve already been up for about 90 minutes. I went to bed last night around midnight, intending to sleep about 8 hours if I could, as I have things to be doing today. A chiropractic appointment in another town, and since it’s going to be a nice day outside, probably a lunch out on the way home, then some work either in the backyard, in the gardens, or finishing work on the roto-tiller if I can manage to procure a suitable fuel line.

During my work career, I’ve primarily worked third shift. Going in to work at anywhere between 10 pm and perhaps 2-3 am when I was working in the store bakery. When you work a late shift, you tend to want to sleep during the day, and you don’t always get the right amount of it, due to the interruption of circadian rhythms and the fact the human body wasn’t really designed for third shift work. Go back a hundred years, (or more) and people weren’t working three shifts normally. It was only after fluorescent lights were invented and used in factories that the third shift was given its time. Now, companies that want super-productivity schedule people to work in the middle of the night when there’s little foot traffic to get things accomplished (like stocking shelves) and ready for business come the morning.

It’s only in the last ten years that I’ve been working first shift. Starting in the early morning anywhere from 6:30 to 8, with the occasional 5 am when it comes to a day where there’s department inventory. I’ve dabbled with the idea of going to another store to become a department manager again, recently there were openings nearby for a night crew manager, or what’s called a ‘scan coordinator’, basically someone that’s in charge of keeping all the prices in that particular store in order, hanging and creating sales tags and so on. But what’s mostly stopped me is the fact it’s no more money than I’m making now, and I’d have to drive 40-50 more miles per day. So I’d end up losing money for the ‘privilege’ of being a manager. Honestly, no thanks. Plus there’s little room for advancement. So I’ll stay where I am.

Circling back to the topic at hand, I woke up this morning early and figured I’d get my bathroom routine out-of-the-way right off, so that my wife, who tends not to be a morning person, could take her time getting herself ready for our sojourn out. Even she admits when she was employed as a social worker, she had a difficult time getting to the office in a timely fashion. If I get my stuff done, the primary bathroom is free (there are 2 in the house, but one is far more cramped than the other) for her to use at her leisure and I can get other things done before we head out.

Too, it fits into my usual morning routine when I’m working.  I get up, get my bearings and head to the bathroom for evacuation and dawdling on my Samsung tablet, checking news, baseball scores (have to see if the Red Sox either won or lost) and whatever else might be happening on social media or elsewhere.  Since I installed signal repeaters in good places in the house, there’s a strong WiFi connection just about everywhere both upstairs and down, so I don’t have to be concerned with signal drop like I used to.   I don’t really like typing on the tablet, I tend to prefer the feel of a keyboard when I’m typing.  I’m a bit old-school in that respect.  Unlike the kids I see at work who type away at 200 wpm with their thumbs, I’m more of the touch-typist, like when I practically taught myself on late nights sitting on the couch at our old house on the lake.  IRC was a great teacher when it came to learning typing.  Take that, typing class at RCS!  Ahem.

It’s now almost 9 and about ready to get going with getting the trash and recycling out to the curb.  Don’t have to fight for bathroom time and hopefully things will go smoothly from here on out.  The wife has come downstairs, we’ve chatted about what else we’re going to be doing post-appointment (she wants to shop for more plants, I need to see if that fuel line is available and there’s lunch to consider) and she’s headed for her (working) computer in the addition.