22 September 2007

What I Do, In A Specific Sort of Way

Once you know how to weld, you can build just about anything made of metal. Welders make and repair buildings, machinery, pipelines, cars, planes, ships, submarines, spaceships, boilers, drilling rigs, bridges, and more. We can even work under water, if we're so inclined (I am most definitely not), though most of us stay on dry land. I've run into a lot of welders who refuse to do what I do, which is work in a production shop. They can't stand the monotony. And that's fine. To each his own, and all that. But I like my job. This is what I do:

This is the company I work for, and the bunches of blades in those fan-shaped things are what I make. Sheet steel comes into the building and goes to our massive (about 20' square) laser cutter. It mostly-cuts the blades for each job, and then the blades come to my area, Barset Assembly. My coworker and I run the sheets through a Timesaver to get the burrs from the cutting process off. Then we break the blades out of the sheets, arrange them by type (some sets have five types of blades, others have 10 or more), and "build" the sets by assembling the blades in the correct order. We put spacers between the blades and then put each barset in a clamp. I put on my welding helmet and fuse three to five lines across the back of the barset (depending on the set's size) and one line along each cross-section edge. The sets get run through another Timesaver to make sure everything's even, and then they go on to the next step in the process... which I don't watch because I'm too busy building more sets.

It's mindless work, for the most part, and that's one of the things I like about it. I can zone out a bit and not screw anything up, and the counting I have to do when building sets makes my obsessive-compulsive side happy. The worst part of my job is having to get up at 5 o'clock in the morning. I haven't had to do that on a regular basis since basic training, and I only lasted about a week there, so it wasn't regular... it was more like a really bad vacation. On the plus side, I get out of work at 3:15, so I have plenty of time to do errands and enjoy the daylight. School days suck, though. Get up at 5, get to work at 7, get out of work at 3:15, go home and make/eat dinner, get to school just before 6, and get home at 10:30. It's three days a week, it's exhausting, and I have about four more months of it.

I can do this. The education is worth it, the paycheck is worth it, and proving my pessimistic, unsupportive mother wrong is worth it, too.

Coming next: Breaks In the Monotony, Cracks In the Pieces

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