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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Not Exactly the Quality Job I Was Looking For

I left Billtown Cab and Frito-Lay to work for a company called First Quality. Again, I was working third shift hours, but it was more money than I was making at my two previous jobs. I'll start with how I got this job.

As I was working for Billtown Cab, I would pick up one of my regular customers who worked at First Quality. She told me how much she enjoyed her job. She worked in the ejection molding area of the factory. She said it was great, it wasn't too fast paced, everyone got along well and there was a variety of things to do, meaning she didn't work on the same machine every night, night after night. It seemed like a good job, so when I saw an ad in the paper for someone to work in the injection molding area at First Quality, I applied for it. About a week later I was called in for an interview. I told my customer that I had an interview with the company with her department. She said that she was leaving soon so I was probably going to be her replacement. Another thing she told me was it was a good thing I wasn't going for a job on the wipes floor, where they make adult and baby wipes. She told me to never take a job in that department, it's horrible and you'll be treated horribly. 

I had a second interview and they decided to hire me on. So I put my two weeks notice in at Billtown Cab and Frito-Lay and went to orientation for my new job. When I sat at my assigned seat for orientation the welcome packet had my job destination on it which should have said Injection Molding, but instead it said...(cue suspenseful scary music: dun, dun, dunnnnn!)...Wipes Floor. Just great. I said to the person in charge of orientation that there must have been a mistake because I didn't apply for that job. She said not to worry, it pays the same. Like that's the only thing that matters. I hated my job from day one. The first night went sooooo slooooow. I was being trained on a machine that layers the wipes and intersects them and then cuts them into little bricks or little piles of wipes. Then they went through a metal detector and if there was any metal in them, they would get sent onto a separate conveyor belt and we would toss them away. The job mostly consisted of keeping an eye on the machine. Boring! Fortunately this was the first and only time I had to work on this one.

Another job I did there was much better than the first one I just talked about. I worked on the back of the machine that layers the wipes. It was my job to put giant rolls of paper/fabric which came a little past my waist  onto the back of the machine and splice it onto a newer roll as the previous roll runs out of material. We didn't even have to shut down the machine to do this. It usually took two people to do this job. There could be up to 26 rolls on this machine at one time. We used walkie-talkies to communicate with the people in the front of the machine to let them know when we were getting ready to splice so they could do their part as well. Out of all the jobs I did at First Quality, this was probably one of the better ones. 

One of the other jobs I did there quite frequently was stack empty tubs onto a conveyor belt. The machine did the rest. This job wasn't too bad either, as long as there was a second person working with me. A forklift would bring out a pallet of tubs which we would have to unwrap and then stack the pallets when it ran out of tubs. So there was more to it than just putting tubs on a conveyor belt. Once in a great while, I would have to do this job on my own and it became very fast paced. I would pray that a machine would break down somewhere on the line so I could have a chance to catch up. There was one guy that worked there that did it on his own who was very tall, young and energetic. Then they tried having a lady that was barely 5 feet tall and was middle-aged work the machine by herself. The people in charge couldn't understand why this tiny middle-aged woman didn't have the same physical ability as a 6'5" inch 20 year old. The logic of the supervisors in that place was astoundingly stupid.

I did a few other minor jobs there as well, but the one I did almost every night was the most fast-paced and frustrating job on the whole floor. It was the machine that boxed the tubs of wipes. It had three parts to it. we loaded unfolded boxes onto the one end of it and a machine would unfold the boxes and tape the bottom of them. Then the empty boxes would go into another machine where the tubs of wipes would be placed into the boxes and finally the last machine shut and taped the top of the box shut. This was the absolutely worst machine to work on. Something would constantly be wrong with one of the three machines a one point or another. The box unfolder wouldn't unfold the boxes or it wouldn't tape the bottom correctly, the machine that boxed the wipes wouldn't be able to pick up the tubs of wipes so it would shoot them out onto some rollers where we had to box them ourselves and the machine that taped the top of the boxes would get jammed up and the boxes would get stuck. When any of these things happened we had to shut down that part of the machine, lock and tag it out, fix the problem, unlock and untag the machine and then restart the machine. Did I mention that this machine with three parts to it wasn't the only one. We had two others that we had to keep up with. There were usually three of us that worked on these machines and sometimes that wasn't enough.

It wasn't just the three main parts of the machines that messed up. Sometimes the empty boxes on the rollers would get stuck and wouldn't go into the machine to get filled with the tubs. Sometimes a tub of wipes would turn sideways on the conveyor belt, get stuck and back up the other wipes from getting to where they were supposed to go and we had to constantly replace the tape that the machines used to close up the boxes. So we had to keep our eyes on six rolls of tape and replace them when they got low. It required us to shut down the machine, get underneath the machine as if we were a mechanic working on a car and then splice the tape from the old roll onto the new one and then turn the machine back on. 

One more thing I should mention as if this job didn't seem busy enough. If any other machine on the production floor had to be shut down for any reason, the whole line stops and it kind of gives people a little bit of a break, including us. But, if the machine that boxes the wipes has a part that malfunctions, guess what? THE WIPES JUST KEEP COMING!!! If the machine that unfolds the boxes and tapes the bottom malfunctions and is not spitting out the required boxes, THE WIPES JUST KEEP COMING!!! if the machine that puts the wipes in the boxes short circuits, THE WIPES JUST KEEP COMING!!!. If the machine that tapes the top of the box poops out, THE WIPES JUST KEEP COMING!!! And if the conveyor belt that takes the boxes of wipes from the production floor into the warehouse stops, I THINK YOU CAN FINISH THIS SENTENCE ON YOUR OWN!!!

Did I mention we worked 12 hours shifts? Yea, we would work for two hours and get a ten minute break, work two more hours and get a fifteen minute break, another 2 hours-10 min. break, 2 more-15 min. break and finally 2 more hours and a ten minute break. How generous to give us five breaks throughout the night, except for the fact that it took about three minutes to get to the break room and back. This was the only time we could use the restroom too. So one or two of my breaks would just be a restroom break. 

We had to wear all kinds of uncomfortable gear. We had to keep our tools on us, wear a hair net, a beard net, a full length coat, ear plugs, safety glasses, steel-toe boots, a muzzle....ok, no muzzle, I was just seeing if you were paying attention. I remember talking to some of the people who worked in injection molding. They said how much they enjoyed their job and they didn't have to wear all that stupid gear.

Once in awhile my boss would have me come to his office to go over my performance and he would tell me the areas in which I needed to improve. One thing I can say is that he was never a mean boss, not like some of the others I had. So I tried my best to improve in the areas that needed some work. I thought I was doing a pretty good job. I lost ten pounds in my first few months there, so I was working hard. I jumped on problems as soon as they happened to keep the line moving. I kept pretty busy for the most part and never stopped moving. There were other people that had really boring jobs in there. I swear that this one girl's job was to just stand there and watch us, that's all she did. What her real job was, was to work the machine on the front of the line for the baby wipes. The machine never seemed to mess up so she didn't have anything better to do than watch the other people working. So we worked our butts off while other people were hardly doing anything at all.

Then the day came when I was asked to come to the office. He was my boss's boss, and I had never seen him before. He told me that I just wasn't the right fit and they were letting me go. Gee, a warning may have been nice. I improved at all the things I needed to improve at. I was working harder than most of the other people in there, but apparently I wasn't good enough. The fact is, I was just about to qualify for benefits and what they do is lay off a ton of people at one time so they can hire on new people so they don't have to pay for those benefits, and then they would get rid of the new people before they would qualify for their benefits. That would explain why so many people left in the short five months I worked there. I saw more than twenty people come and go in that short amount of time. They need to make laws against this kind of thing. They would only keep a very small amount of people. In fact, the person that had worked there the longest had only been there for about a year, but he was kind of a kiss-ass, pardon my language.

I'm not the kind that bows down and worships my employer and that's why they didn't keep me around. I was more than happy to leave that place though. But I've been laid off before and it's a scary thing. I will conclude the Work, Work, Work edition of my blog in my next post. Stay tuned! 

Sorry that this post has mostly been a rant, but this was seriously one of the worst jobs I've ever had and I don't ever recommend anyone go and work for this company at all.




Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Frito-Lame

I'm going to finish up the Work, Work, Work posts by posting them from here on out until I'm caught up to my current job. But for this post I'm going to talk about how I worked for Frito-Lay. This was another part-time job I took on while working full-time. I did this job and worked for Billtown Cab at the same time. 

I worked for Frito-Lay for a short time so this won't be a very long post. I worked as a Detailer which means I went to various stores to stock the shelves with whatever Frito-Lay products were needed on the shelves. I could only work with what was available in the back of the stores. I only worked two nights a week, it was the nights the delivery driver had off. 

The hours were weird with this job too, but that's the schedule I was already on. The job didn't really have any set hours, just as long as I got the job done before the sun came up basically. I would usually start around 8pm. I had to stock three different stores. Two Weis Markets and a Sam's Club. Sam's Club usually took a long time. It usually took me around 6 to 8 hours to do all three stores.

My boss kept trying to add more stores, even ones that were almost an hour away from some of the other ones I delivered to. I told her I couldn't because I already work 50 to 60 hours a week just with the cab driving job. I really wanted one of the delivery routes, it would have been a well paying job. The hours still would have been weird though. Also, since I was using my own car to go from store to store, I kept track of my mileage because they paid for mileage. Well, at least they said they would. I never got a single mileage check from them. They said there was a glitch when I logged my miles into the computer and couldn't prove how many miles I drove. A likely story. Eventually a route position became available and I went for it but they didn't give it to me. 

So, I was pretty much done with this stupid company. I was offered a job somewhere else so I quit working for Billtown Cab and Frito-Lay. Good riddance! 

There isn't really much else to say about working for Frito-Lay other than what I've just said. It was very uneventful and I have no interesting stories to tell like I did with some of my other jobs. So this post is just kind of a filler. Stay tuned for the next one, it should be better, maybe not by much, but better nonetheless.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Work, Work, Work Edition: You Don't Look Like a Taxi Driver



One of my earliest TV memories is the opening credits to the show Taxi. I had no idea that thirty-some years later I would become a taxi driver. 

I worked for the Billtown Cab Co. in Williamsport, PA. It was one of the most interesting jobs I've ever had. I met all kinds of people and I do mean "all" kinds of people while working that job. One comment I got from a lot of my passengers was, "You don't look like a taxi driver." I think the reason why so many people said this was because of the way taxi drivers are stereotyped in movies. Take these movie clips for example:







Wow, Bill Murray helped me out twice with those clips! Thanks Bill! So I made it my mission as a cab driver to break the mold of the stereotypical Hollywood version of cab drivers. I achieved this by showing respect to my customers, not stopping in the middle of a bridge, not refusing to take someone where they wanted to go, didn't smoke or drink on the job, when kids got in the taxi and said "Boy, it's scary out there." I didn't respond by saying "Ain't much better in here, kid.", and I didn't transport people back to the year 1955. Anyway, you get the point. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this job. However it seems the fun jobs never pay well. It was a minimum wage job, but we did make tips. So I had to rely on making good tips to get by and it didn't always happen. 

This cab company operates a little different than cabs you would see in a bigger city. You can't just hail a cab, you actually have to call the cab company to schedule a ride. I remember a few times people would try to flag me down, they were obviously from out of town. 

We had a lot of regulars, in fact they probably made up about half of my trips per night. Most of them were okay, some not so okay and some were okay when you took them somewhere, but not okay when you drove them home later that night. 

One question a lot of people asked me was "Don't you hate having to drive drunk people home?" Actually, that was probably one of my highlights of the night for the most part. Driving them home could be very entertaining, plus they usually tipped well. Especially when you stop at every gas station along the way and ask them to pitch in for gas money. Just kidding, that last sentence wasn't true. Many times I would be driving a group of drunk people home and many times they would want to go through a fast food drive-thru. I felt so bad for the person working the drive-thru because the people in my cab would always mess with them, but it was pretty funny sometimes. Usually the person working the drive-thru were pretty cool with them. They're probably used to it. Another question people asked me was "Is this the Cash Cab?" or "Are we on Taxi Cab Confessions?" which were both TV shows.

The good thing about taking people through the drive-thru was they would often offer to buy me food. Besides cash, food was always a good form of a tip. But there were a few offers people made me as tips that I did not want to accept. For example, someone tried to tip me with something and I declined because I don't smoke, and even if I did I wouldn't smoke that, not only because I don't want to but also because it hasn't been legalized yet. 

I guess you could say I got a good look at the underbelly of society, but what I saw in these people was their humanity, their brokenness. While driving people around I had the opportunity to listen to their problems. Sometimes I felt like more of a counselor than a cab driver. I didn't try to solve their problems though, that's not what they wanted, they just wanted someone to listen and know that I cared. One night, one of my regulars got in the cab. I said "How are you tonight?" He said "Eh, you don't care" So I said "Yes I do, I care that I get you home safely, I even know where you live because I've driven you before and I also know you own your own business." He said "Well, I guess you do care then, you remember all that stuff about me and I have no idea who you are." He did have a lot to drink that night, I'm sure.

That kind of sums up my time as a taxi driver. I'm going to share some stories from my experiences as a cab driver. I have many more to tell, but I don't want to go too long with this post. 

I would occasionally pick up someone I know. It seemed I picked up a lot of my former co-workers from other places that I had worked at. Some from Hope Enterprises and some from when I worked at the Holiday Inn. One time I picked someone up and I didn't know that she was one of my old co-workers at the time because I didn't always look back at my passengers. She said she was going to the James, which was a bar and grill at the Holiday Inn. I asked if she was going there to eat and she said she was going there to work. I told her that I used to work at the hotel, but it was quite a few years ago. She said she's been there awhile and that she was there when I was there. So I looked up in the rear view mirror and said, "Oh, hi Tricia!"

One thing I enjoyed doing was transporting items to different locations. We mostly delivered specimens to go the the lab at the hospital. But another thing we transported often were film reels from one movie theater to another. These were usually longer trips. A couple times I had to deliver film reels to a drive-in theater near Corning, NY. One time I had to go to Owego, NY. No, not Oswego, NY, Owego, NY, two different towns. The guy running the movie theater was supposed to meet me around midnight. I got there a little early but no one was there. So midnight rolled around and still no sight of this guy. I called my dispatcher and he said to wait around a little while more. 12:30 rolled around and I was getting ready to pull away and the guy just then happened to show up. Lucky for him I didn't leave. The meter was running the whole time I was waiting there, and if I had left, the meter would have ran all the way back to Williamsport which would have been a pretty big bill. 

The most awkward trip I ever had to take was from New Columbia to Harrisburg, about an hour and a half trip. The guy I was picking up didn't speak much English either. I had to take him to the Harrisburg Airport. I asked my dispatcher if there was more than one airport in Harrisburg and he told me there wasn't. So I looked up the Harrisburg Airport in my GPS and started heading down there. About fifteen minutes of silence because we couldn't communicate I asked him if he wanted to me turn on the radio, so I did. We finally got to Harrisburg and where the GPS told me to go, but it was not the Harrisburg Airport. Apparently it was a flight school, but the GPS listed it as an airport and since there's only one in Harrisburg, I figured that was it. So I apologized to the man and got the correct address and got him to where he was going. I even knocked a big chunk of money off his fare. 

When I was still training for the job I had to ride along with one of the drivers. One of the stops we had to make was at a women's prison to pick up a prisoner who finished serving their term. I was a little nervous about that. But one thing I found out was that picking people up from the prison became one of my favorite stops to make. The women who were getting out were the happiest person in the world that day. They'd talk about all the restaurants they were going to go to. That always seemed to be the one thing almost all of them would talk about. But of course they were happy they were going to be reunited with family and friends. Most of them didn't even seem like people who belonged in prison. I think a lot of them were people who just made one big mistake or perhaps fell in with the wrong crowd. One of them ended up getting a job at a fast-food restaurant here in Williamsport. I would drive her from the half-way house to work and back. We'd have great conversations. I'd tell her about my family and she'd tell me about hers. In fact, sometime after I quit working for the cab company I went to the fast food restaurant. April and Chloe were with me and the person taking my order happened to be the one I drove in the cab. So she was glad to meet the family that I had told her so much about. 

There was only one time I had to call the police while on the job, and it really wasn't a big deal. One night I picked up a guy that was drunker than drunk. He came out of the bar and as he was walking down the sidewalk he fell into the shrubs. So I helped him up and into the cab. I got him to his hotel and he was talking to me, he paid for his fare and said, "Okay, I'll get out of the cab in a minute." Well, less than a minute later he was sound asleep. As cab drivers we're not supposed to lay a finger on anybody so the only thing I could to was yell to try to wake him up. It wasn't working. So I called my dispatcher and he called the police while I just sat there waiting. The police showed up and were able to drag him out of the car. The guy woke up and thought he was in a lot of trouble. But the cops and I both reassured him that he wasn't in any trouble and that they were just there to get him to his room safely. 

I think I'll finish up here, this is one of the longest posts I've done in awhile. I eventually had to leave the cab company because it just wasn't getting the bills paid and it was kind of a dangerous job. I'd work from 5pm to 5am, but would often times have to stay on till 7am or 8am. My lack of sleep was effecting my ability to drive all night. There were a few scary moments of falling asleep behind the wheel. When we had some downtime I would try to get in a cat nap and that would help, but some nights we were busy all night long without any breaks on a 14 hour shift. Yea, it was time to leave. I'll talk all about my next job in the next "Work, Work, Work Edition". I'm gonna go get some sleep now. Not in my car, but in my bed. Goodnight.

Monday, September 30, 2013

I Need a Hand!



There's a good chance you've heard somebody say, or you've said yourself, "I wish I had a third arm." Whether it's while doing chores or trying to carry a bunch of things at once, I'm sure we've all felt this way at one time or another. It only makes sense, right? I mean, what was God thinking when he only gave us two arms? Three arms would be much better. Ok, so let's go back to when God created man. Let's say God gave man three arms. Now fast forward to the beginning of this blog post:

There's a good chance you've heard somebody say, or you've said yourself, "I wish I had a fourth arm." Whether it's while doing chores or trying to carry a bunch of things at once, I'm sure we've all felt this way at one time or another. It only makes sense, right? I mean, what was God thinking when he only gave us three arms? Four arms would be much better. Ok, so let's go back to when God created man. Let's say God gave man four arms. Now fast forward to the beginning of this blog post:

There's a good chance you've heard somebody say, or you've said yourself, "I wish I had a fifth arm...

Alright, I'll stop there, I think you're getting the point. Even though there are times when it seems like we could use another arm or hand, two arms is how God created us and I'm not about to argue with the Creator. Could you imagine if we looked like this guy though:



Oh Goro, you and your sneaky tactics, holding my two arms while you beat me mercilessly with your other two arms.....sorry, I just had a little flashback of playing Mortal Kombat when I was a teenager.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yea, two arms is all we need. In fact, as a new daddy, I've learned to do a lot of things with one arm while the other arm was holding a baby. 

I could rewrite that whole Alanis Morissette song:

"...cause I've got one hand holding a baby and the other one is giving a high five!"

"...cause I've got one hand holding a baby and the other one is flicking a cigarette!"

Ooooh, that song just became very inappropriate.

I've learned how to do a lot of things one handed while holding a baby. Things like mowing the lawn, cooking bacon, riding my motorcycle. I'm kidding of course. Don't go calling child services on me. 

Later in life if I lose one of my arms, I'll be prepared. Speaking of amputees, Demetri Martin once said something like "If I ever see an amputee being hanged, I'll just start shouting out letters." I'm not sure if I quoted him exactly, but it was something like that. 

Well, I have gone way off track. But I guess the initial point I was trying to make was, we may sometimes think that having two arms isn't enough but it is. We do this with everything, we feel we don't have enough money, food, clothing, etc. 

Consider the lilies (Luke 12:27-31)

One more thing. If you still think having more than two arms would be better, I've made a top ten list of why having more than two arms would be a bad thing. 

1. You'd spend a lot more on underarm deodorant, gloves, fingernail polish, etc.

2. Have you ever tried dressing a baby? Imagine dressing one with six arms. 

3. You wouldn't want to be able to count how old you are on your fingers when you're 80.

4. Clipping your fingernails would take forever.

5. It would be confusing when someone said, "Look at those forearms."

6. Getting just two thumbs down is devastating enough.

7. Sign language would be too complicated.

8. Imagine the dentist coming at you with four hands saying, "Open wide."

9. Your driving instructor would remind you to keep your hands at 10 and 2 and 6 and 3 and 8 and 11.

10. Raise your right hand, no, your other right hand, no, your other right hand, no, your other right hand, no.......

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Few Broken Keyboard Keys and Star Wars


So, I had a little mishap with my computer the other week. Some root beer was acciently spilled on my laptop and now the a, d, anz keys aren't working, so I had to copy and paste all of the a'sd'ss'and z'in. So this post is not going to be a wordy one. I'm hoping to order a new wireless keyboard on Amazon.com so things will be back to normal. Today, I'm going to share some pictures that I stumbled across while looking asome old CDs. These pictures are screenshots from an online game I used to play called Star Wars Galaxies. It's been awhile since I've seen thesand I forgot I even had them, so I thought I would share them here. Enjoy!





























































By the way, here's how the opening paragraph looked before I copied and pasted in all the a's, d's, s'and z's:


o, I h  little mihp with my computer the other week. ome root beer w cciently pille on my lptop n now the n  key ren't working, o I've h to copy n pte ll of the n in. o thi pot i not going to be wory one. I'm hoping to orer  new wirele keybor on mon.com o thing will be bck to norml. Toy, I'm going to hre ome picture tht I tumble cro while looking t ome ol C. Thee picture re creenhot from n online gme I ue to ply clle tr Wr Glxie. It' been while ince I've een thee n I forgot I even h them, o I thought I woul hre them here. Enjoy!