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Blogity-blah-blah-blog: Not Exactly the Quality Job I Was Looking For

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.

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