Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The One Day Job

I have a friend who told me that he has a hard time retaining employees. The jobs he has are difficult and the pay he offers is very good. His story reminded of a job that I once held for one day.

I was applying for a job at a high tech company when I lived in New Jersey. A day after the interview I was called back to the company where the owner said that he was really impressed with me, but unfortunately the job I applied for was going to be filled by someone who had years of experience in that position with another company. He went on to say that he didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to hire me because I showed him some qualities of good work ethics while being interviewed. He asked if I was interested in working for his other company as a machinist and the pay would be nearly double what the pay would have been for the tech position for which I had applied. I told him that I had no experience as a machinist, but I was willing to give it a go.

The company I was sent to made specialty ceramic pieces for who knows what. Once these things came out of the kiln they needed to be shaped and finished. I was placed on this drill press with a very strange diamond bit. The ceramic piece was placed in a jig and it was my job to drill holes in this piece from different angles.

The ceramic pieces where very hard to the degree one would think they were made of metal. The diamond bits were hard as well, but there was a delicate balance in the milling. If you went too slowly, you weren’t making the production figures, and if you went too quickly you’d burn up the diamond bit. I burned up three bits and only turned out a hand full of finished product by the end of the ten-hour day.

I went home exhausted and went right to bed setting my alarm clock for 5:00 the next morning. When I awoke I could still feel the tension. I wondered if I’d ever get any better at drilling these ceramic bits. By the time I finished my first cup of coffee I realize that I couldn’t see making a career of this occupation. I picked up the phone and called my boss and told him that I was no machinist. I never looked back and I got another job by the end of that day.


Blogger Beth said...

Ten hours of drilling. Awful. Reminds me of summer jobs I had where I learned a valuable lesson - factory jobs would not be in my future.

8:01 AM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

You were the newbee, and newbees start at the bottom.
Machinist is an excellent job these days if you are with the right company.
Most of our machines were CAD / CAM which means that when you made part drawings off of the master drawing, the CAM program would generate all of the G & M codes.
One sets in a comfortable office and makes part drawings. Download the program into the milling machinne, lathe, EDM, laser, whatever..
Do one dry-run.
Then you clamp the material, dial it in, set "part zero" and then run the program.
Save the programs and use it over and over.
The best machinist is one with a serious "can do" attitude.
That person will have 3 machines Blazing away, the radio playing softly, a coffee cup, and a calm smile.
And when you show a drawing ion a napkin and ask, "Do you think we could make somthing like this?"
The answer is, "We can make anything!"
Oh yeah! being a premadonna is not only allowed but highly encouraged.

9:05 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Beth, It's not only important to know what you want to do, but more so what you don't.

Gearhead, this was 1974 when a CAD was someone who mistreated women, and a CAM was an engine part. We didn't even have Comodores yet. Machining was all done by gage and someone at the lever.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Mike S said...

A job you dislike for a career can make for a looong time until you retire. What amazes me is how many times us old Geezers are asked to make something that these younger guys can't picture. I spent a lot of time a few years ago making parts to the old steam locomotive that a club was restoring, where I had to go see what the thing did and design something to do it:)

2:22 PM  
Blogger Auntie said...

I had a one day job once. In a factory I worked in once, and it was working in 'corn dogs'.

I will save the rest for a future blog article. ;)

6:25 AM  

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