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The Squeaky Wheel Gets A Promotion, Part 2

, , , , , | Working | May 25, 2021

I work in a factory. We were supposed to spend a little time in each department and then choose where to work. Instead, we are all dumped on the shop floor, mopping up spills, replacing the hundreds of time light bulbs, and rewiring plugs.

Four years of study for this? I feel conned and bored; this isn’t the job I accepted. I am going nowhere and barely sleeping, and I dread every Monday. 

I am complaining about it to another guy my age who’s in the same position.

Coworker: “I don’t know why you are complaining. It’s a job, isn’t it?”

Me: “Aren’t you bored? All we do is the same thing over and over.”

Coworker: “I don’t mind it.”

Me: “But this is a dead end. If we stay, this is all it is ever going to be.”

Coworker: “I’m going to try to get the team leader role.”

Me: “I mean, sure, but that is one vacancy and there are five people who have been here longer. Look, it just isn’t for me.”

Coworker: “Whatever. I would just keep your head down.”

I don’t. I apply for the first job I can in another department. My coworker calls me crazy. But before long, I am promoted and then promoted again. I leave the company for a more senior role and then am promoted again. Eventually, I end up working on some cutting-edge stuff for a great company.

I get a message from my former coworker.

Coworker: “Hey, how’re things? I heard you got made redundant and I thought I would let you know, your old job is open again. Shame you left; you could have been team leader now. I just took the role.”

I didn’t bother replying.

Related:
The Squeaky Wheel Gets A Promotion

No Effort, No Outcome

, , , , , , | Working | May 21, 2021

My coworker is a chore to work with. Ask him to do anything he doesn’t deem “his job” and he refuses. I have actually watched him not report a smoldering fire because he was going on his break. He just said, “I am entitled to a break; someone will sort it out.”

I think he thinks he is some great hero of the people, fighting some bourgeoisie. In reality, it is a small family business, and his stupid behaviour makes people dislike him.

Christmas is coming up and I am putting in some extra hours to earn some extra cash. All hours are posted on a notice board; I’m happy to see that I’m scheduled again for both shifts. 

Coworker: “How come you got overtime again?”

Me: “I can run [machine]; that’s where the work is.”

Coworker: “How come you got training? I wasn’t offered training!”

I sigh as this is going to be another of his outbursts to deal with.

Me: “I got training as I volunteered to help set the machine up. I also took the time to read the manual, which is available to everyone and still is.”

Coworker: “Well, I could have done that!”

Me: “Yes, but you didn’t, did you? We needed as many volunteers as we could; instead, we spent a whole weekend struggling.”

Coworker: “I didn’t know I would get overtime out of it!”

Me: “None of us did. We volunteered because they asked us and it needed to be done. Maybe if you helped out more, they would—”

Coworker: *Cutting me off* “This isn’t right. I’m being discriminated against. I’m speaking to [Manager]!”

I can only assume they told him to shut up and get back to work, as he reappeared moments later. [Coworker] never got on the overtime sheet, but he complained all the way up to Christmas about it, still not actually making any effort to learn the jobs that were in high demand.

You Can Lead A Horse To Tools…

, , , , , | Working | May 17, 2021

Part of my job is to take the complaints made by customers and prevent them from reoccurring.  This can be as simple as stopping the packing guys from dumping their breakfast wrappers in the boxes going to the customers or as complex as helping devise a new machining method to improve the accuracy of parts.

A major complaint comes in from the main customer; potentially hundreds of thousands of pounds of stock are affected by an issue that’s almost impossible to detect after it leaves us. We should be catching it, yet they are finding more and more issues. This could be serious.

I quickly find that the root of the issue is the way the guys are checking the parts. It just isn’t good enough and it’s the reason why we kept sending bad parts through. I call the team together.

Me: “Okay, everyone. We have had some major issues reported by the customer. It’s affecting potentially thousands of parts, it’s about the height of this part.”

I can see several of them not listening and rolling their eyes. One is chatting at the back.

Me: “Can we pay attention, please? If this isn’t resolved quickly, we could have a massive issue; if they send all the parts back, it could close us down!”

They begrudgingly start to listen.

Me: “The new way to check these parts is with this new tool and doing it this way.”

I demonstrate.

Worker: “That will take too long! I don’t have time for that!”

Me: “This is the new process. If we don’t do it and we keep sending scrap to our customers, you will have all the time in the world, as we won’t have jobs! Everything is described on this single page, which is laminated and stuck to the machine. I have placed a tool at the machine and with the team lead. Understood?”

They just stare at me in apathy. They don’t care that this is such a huge problem, or they don’t believe me. I decide to check on them in a week’s time.

Me: “How is it working out?”

Worker: “Yeah, okay.”

Me: “This is the old tool. Why are you not following the process?”

Worker: “The new one got lost.”

Me: “So, you didn’t ask or report it?”

He shrugged his shoulders. I found a replacement tool and removed the old one from him. 

I decided to check on him in a few days and found him using the new tool but the old way. After another few days, someone had ripped the instructions down and “lost” the tool again. 

The customer kept finding more and more issues, even on the ones that we said should now be good. The next year, the customer didn’t renew their contract, and the company slowly collapsed as no other new work came in.

I found a new job before it went completely under; some stayed to the end. I later saw a newspaper article about the company closing. The same faces were there saying they were devastated the company closed, blaming the company for not doing more, etc. Some people will find blame anywhere but themselves.

Doctor’s Notes Are Powerful

, , , , , , | Working | May 7, 2021

I have chronic back issues that may flare up quite unexpectedly. My team leader is aware of that. After a few years working in the factory, with increasingly poor ergonomy, my back begins to act up more often. Permanent workers can get a sick day or two just by letting the team leader know.

A few months go by. I call or message the team leader if I have a really bad day, and I don’t go to work that day.

Team Leader: “I can’t let you take any more sick days without a doctor’s note.”

Me: “So, even if it’s one day — like it’s been this far — I need to visit a doctor and get a note?”

Team Leader: “That’s right. I hope you understand.”

Me: “All right.”

From then on, every time my back flared up — not talking about a minor twinge or muscle cramp here — I called the occupational healthcare clinic, got an appointment, and got a doctor’s note. Those notes ALWAYS prescribed at least three days of paid sick leave, sometimes a week!

Fear Is The Mood-Killer

, , , | Working | May 6, 2021

My wife works in a mall. I have a job in the oil and gas sector. It is one of those rare Saturdays when the wife is home and the kid is in school and we are, shall we say, making the most of it, when my phone rings. I did not switch it off because you never know whether a child of primary school age may pick this particular day to be sick or have a nosebleed or break an arm during recess.

I check the incoming call and recognize the number: it’s from my company’s project manager. I feel a knot starting to form in my belly; a few years ago, we had a severe accident occur with a team that was working during the weekend. I knock on wood and hope it will turn to be only a minor annoyance.

Me: “Hello.”

Project Manager: *Sounding frantic* “[My Name]? S*** just got real here. You gotta help me!”

I freeze, literally. Sweat chills on the skin of my back; my lips go numb. Our job is dangerous, the site is dangerous, and I expect him to tell me that someone on the team was injured or worse.

Me: “What happened? Is everyone all right?”

Project Manager: “Yeah, well… let me explain.”

Me: “Answer me first. Is anyone hurt?”

Project Manager: “No. We were written up by the customer’s health and safety inspector because he found that a bit of our warning tape had snapped and was tied back but it fell off, and I need you to send out a reply to their findings.”

Two things happened. First, I deflated. I let out a long breath and didn’t feel like drawing another one soon. The sensation of relief that I was feeling was like the hit from an illicit substance. But then, right on top of it, came the rage. How dare this moron disturb me on my off day, ruining my chance of finally getting a leg up, and actually giving me a scare because he can’t handle such a laughable matter himself?! I called him a lot of names and told him that if I received the HSE inspector report, it would be considered with the attention it deserved… on Monday morning. Not a minute earlier.

It turned out that the project manager did not need to panic; we never received any complaint from the customer about warning tape. The mood, however, had been killed and did not return on that day.