Sunday, December 20, 2009

Going crazy...

This past week was a real test. They did kick down some overtime so it looks like I have some room to breathe. But it also means that I have to work.
This coming week I am going to try to concentrate on working. That sounds obvious but let me tell you that when you are baking aluminum bread it is hard to pay attention to the minor details like signing paperwork.
The real needle in the eye came when I was making these pieces and was supposed to write an X on the bottom left corner of the piece. I did this at the start...(God, this is petty to even mention) and then I put the piece on the oven. thirty minutes later I took the piece off and the X was gone. IT had been baked off with the epoxy. I did this many times and each time the X vanished. So I would reapply the X.
Now comes my opportunity to bitch about the pettiness that drives one to petty. See, the person who later was assigned to the second step of the process tells me to put the X on the bottom because he isn't seeing it. And the 50 year old ladies who have been there for 15+ years start talking out loud. Oh, god, my blood pressure must've been right beneath Aneurysm.
"He don't listen. None of 'em listen."
"Naw, I don't care! It's none of my business. I'm staying out of it. It ain't worth it! They don't care about the X. It don't matter to you but it matters to the next guy in line. But what do you care?"
I don't say anything. I just stare at her. I give her the Robert Diniro stare.
She says, "I'm staying out of it! It ain't worth bothering myself about. You can't teach something if a guy doesn't want to learn. Put the X, don't put the X. What do I care? They don't want to put the X on."
This last part kills me. Instead of just a forgetful mouth breather, I suddenly become a villain. I didn't want to put the X on. Like I've been plotting this at home for weeks. I will fuck up the whole process ON PURPOSE! I sabotage the assembly because I'm evil! But...see...I...oh, Jesus take me!
This goes on for minutes. Three old women just shaking their heads that I can't remember to put the X on the bottom of the piece of aluminum even though I have been putting the X on but it gets baked off.
I have a familiar feeling that I have felt many times, most of all when I was working on the merchant vessels. In order to continue this conversation I will have to defend myself. But to defend myself means I will say, "I put the X on, but it bakes off during the thirty minutes at 250 degrees. It disappears." And this statement, as true as it is, is so petty and unsophisticated that I can not bring myself to utter it. But to listen to this old woman yap like a hen on crystal meth is intolerable. But I need the job. If I had any pride at all I would just walk out. There is no need so great as to demand listening for ten or twenty minutes as a woman ignorantly accuses me of something that isn't true. But to quit my job, a job that pays real money, because this nameless woman is having a fit about this phantom error is EQUALLY AS PETTY. I swear, the Dali Lama has got it easy. He trucks around the globe with a fancy entourage whining about China stealing Tibet. People kiss his ass and he smiles all the time. What a happy guy, he is. Yeah? Why the fuck shouldn't he be happy? I'd like to see his face when they put the hot irons on his feet. Would he be happy then? Hey, Dali, let's trade places for a week or two!
I'm right on the verge of a breakdown. I'm not angry at all, I'm just struck by how utterly insane this whole situation is, baking aluminum high tech shit for 15 years, building mini indestructible pyramids for Chinese pharaohs. and during this insane process there is an equally insane mini drama that has to do with an X, a single letter, that I write on the bottom of these mini-pyramids that disappears in the baking process and now everyone is accusing me of forgetting to put on in the first place, even intentionally neglecting to put it on because I'm a bad team player. This is why people go crazy. They are completely serious that this is a major offense and I am completely certain that it doesn't even exist, that the process is destroying the X. But to explain myself is to sink to a level beneath a slave. First of all, I will have to write the X on and demonstrate that the X disappears. It will involve everyone gathering around the piece as I take it off the hot plate. I almost gag thinking about that scene, the women and men looking for an X on the bottom of the aluminum as a conveyor belt and ovens and pallet jacks thunder past in this industrial landscape. Second of all they will still say that I forgot on the other ones when actually I just stopped writing the X on because it made no difference. I knew it would bake off. So now I'm going to start writing the X on and then it will disappear and they will write it back on. IT's no solution.
But most importantly, what the fuck have I gained by this demonstration? I may vindicate myself to the placement of this magic marker X that is not permanent past 250 degrees of direct heat. But I will have lost some shred of respect for my worldview and philosophy which detests the cultivation of petty complaints. I should leave.
But I need the money. I can't leave and I won't defend myself. And I can't make the X stay on the aluminum. This is factory work. It isn't worth any amount of money and yet most of the world does it without complaint. But I am not most of the world. To even write about it makes me queasy but I have to get it out and move on. OR if I end up in an asylum and you hear me muttering, "I put the X on. I put it on! It got baked off." then you will understand.

Later on, a guy comes over to me.
"Oggy, You seem, pre-occupied."
"I got the weight of the world on me."
This is vague, and funny because the weight refers to a nonexistent letter, but I don't want to get into specifics.

"See, I don't let that bother me. After 12 years in jail, my parents died, my sister died, my wife left with my kid. Now I'm out and I get to look at nice asses, make some money. Listen to music."
I stop grinding my teeth a little bit. I realize that his time in jail, as unseemly as it might be, actually gave him insight into psychopathic expressions, and I have brought this back to him. Thank you, Cyberdyne.
"It's all getting under my skin."
"Hey, don't sweat it. In jail we said inch by inch, life's a cinch. Yard by yard, life is hard."
"What's that mean?"
"Think about it."
He walks away past a younger female worker with tight jeans.
"You got a nice ass. I bet you fuck good."
"Go on! Pig."
But she ways it with a smile.
They have that kind of relationship.
So I'm trying to take it inch by inch.
But I swear I put the X on the bottom. I swear!
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.