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Use Your Brain Muscle!

, , , | Working | June 17, 2021

I work in a bakery as the only woman. The guys are still surprised whenever I carry really heavy stuff or fix things. 

Some of our ovens are built like a closet, with the “shelves” being metal and heated to the appropriate temperature. The breads are baked in sets of metal molds set on rolling wagons that fit into these shelves, putting each batch of molds above a shelf. The oven is about two meters deep, fitting two wagons. 

For some weeks, we’ve had issues with these wagons getting stuck, especially the one in the back. They go in fine, but getting them out sometimes takes a lot of swearing and several big, strong guys pulling — a lot of fun in front of metal heated to 250° Celsius.

I’ve heard a lot of grumbling about it, but the first time I see it happen is also one of the worst times; the wagon is stuck almost all the way back, meaning they can’t even reach it with their hands. Three guys are trying to pull it out with some L-shaped metal pieces. 

Ten minutes pass, and someone’s bleeding after slipping. I get a bandaid.

Me: “Can I take a look? I mean, if it goes in easily, it should come out easily, too, right? Obviously, brute force can’t be the answer.”

Coworker: “No, we’ve got it, don’t worry. We’ve gotten all the others out, too!”

Twenty minutes pass, someone’s gotten himself burnt, and the third one nearly cracks his head open after falling backward when the hook slips off. I’ve offered to look several times, basically begging at the end. 

Finally, they give up and retreat to discuss how to distribute the remaking breads on our other oven types. Obviously, this is unfixable! 

Sensing my chance, I grab a long wooden hook and my phone, turn on the flashlight and drop down onto the floor to look at the wheels. I’m assuming I’m guessing wrong, because surely, the issue cannot be that the wheels have only turned halfway and thus being dragged sideways instead of rolling.

This has gone on for weeks, after all. One of them would have checked! 

Lo and behold, the back wheels have gotten stuck sideways. I maneuver the hook into place on the wheel and give it a sharp pull, and the wheel turns into a proper-ish position. After repeating that for the other wheel, I grab the metal hooks, position them, plant my butt on the floor and my feet against the doorframe, and push and pull backward with all I have… and the wagon comes forward, screeching and reluctantly, but forward it comes. 

And that’s how a problem that had progressed to the point where the replacement of a whole, expensive oven was being discussed was solved by simply replacing a few wheels, and how my big strong coworkers learned that asking someone who can’t solve things with brute force to have a look is a good idea.

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