21 October 2008

Wild Week

There's been plenty of blog-worthy activity at work in the last week. Trouble is, that same activity has been exhausting me so much that I haven't had the energy to write about it. Even now I'm not sure I'll get this entry finished before I fall asleep, but I'm going to try. I'm sure y'all are desperate to know the fate of my fantastic shelving units.

In a move that reminded me of the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, Bob announced last week that there would be not three shelves, but five. This wouldn't have been a problem if we'd had enough material for five shelves. But no, we have enough for three and a half, plus enough bits to stick together to complete a fourth.

Yes, bits. Six- and eight-inch bits of 2x2 tubing and angle iron that I butted end to end to make longer pieces. Now, I'm all for using up the material we have instead of ordering more, but it's really annoying to do those joints and try to keep the whole thing plumb on a table that... isn't.

But at least I have a big enough table to work on now. For about a week and a half I was borrowing a smallish table from the guy in the next booth, but he needed it by the end of last week, so I was using the thin, wobbly table that's a permanent fixture in my booth. Steve, one of the "back room" guys (the "back room" is about a third of the shop, and I still can't understand why they call it that), decided that I deserved a good table, so he and one of the other forklift drivers got together and moved a part that didn't need to be on its tables anymore.

The part? A 10-foot ring. The guys picked it up with two forklifts, took it around a 90° bend, and put it on blocks outside. The coordination required for that move was astounding, and I really wish I could've taken video of it. Unfortunately, photography and videography are forbidden in the shop. Oh well.

I do occasionally bring little things home (things that, if removed from the shop, will not get me fired or violate the non-disclosure agreement I signed), and I'll take pictures of them for you when I have time and light. For now, I'm off to bed so I can be awake enough to finish making my three (five, sir!) five shelves tomorrow.

15 October 2008


Have you ever had one of those projects at work that keeps getting redesigned and altered as you're trying to complete it? I came to expect that at Finebar because it was a natural part of working on prototypes like the conical refiners. Here at AMK, I'm building... shelves. For the shop. And while I respect my bosses, I kind of feel like giving them each a good whack on the head for continually redesigning such a simple project.

They've altered the height, they've added pieces, they've changed the material, they've mistakenly cut parts out of the wrong metal (wasting almost $500 worth of Inconel that somebody said was scrap), and I've been a good little employee and rolled with all of these alterations. But I still want to smack people. They're shelves, for crying out loud! Three simple tool shelves that, had the design not been messed with every day, would have taken me four days, total, to fabricate and paint. It's been a week and a half now, and they're still not even close to being finished.

I'd like to finally get these things done so I can, y'know, practice for certification on something other than carbon steel tubing. Once I'm certified, I can work on "real" projects... the stuff that makes the company money. I feel bad that these shelves are costing the company so much in labor. Speaking of which, my first payday is at the end of this week! It will be so nice to have money again.

09 October 2008

Chicks and Dicks

I think it's about time for you to meet some of my coworkers. I'll do this in installments so it's not too overwhelming. I'll call this first section Chicks and Dicks.

There's one other female welder in the shop. She's about my age, very friendly, and her name is Rhonda. Her name is going to take a while to stop making me twitch, because it's the punchline of a very bad, very sexual visual joke I learned a few years ago. Anywho, she's a nice girl, and I know next to nothing about her because we haven't really talked aside from the daily, "good morning."

The three other women I see on a regular basis are Linda, Jennifer, and Kim. Linda is the Human Resources lady, so she's in charge of pestering people to get their insurance/401(k)/payroll paperwork filled out in a timely fashion. Jennifer is another office employee, and she has some sort of connection to timekeeping. Kim... well, I'm not entirely sure what she does, but she sure does it in a chipper and perky way. She's the lone Pomeranian in this shop full of hound dogs, and we all kind of look at her and wonder where she gets the energy to be so happy all the time.

Now for the Dicks, or rather, the Richards. There are three of them. One works in another part of the shop, so I don't interact with him. The other two have been working closely with me this week, one as sort of a supervisor (I call him Rick), and one as an assistant (I call him Little Ricky). They're both really nice guys, eager to help and teach. Rick is an old-timer, Little Ricky just turned 21, and yet they get along really well, both with each other and everyone else.

More to come!

07 October 2008

First And Second

First day? Kinda boring. Paperwork, safety instruction, and then hours and hours of test plates that refused to behave the way I wanted them to.

Second day? Awesome. I ran a few test plates which consistently came out nicely, and then spent the rest of the day building shelves out of square tubing. My back is killing me, but I'm very satisfied with my work.

Oh, and I got a barcode today! The time clock uses a barcode scanner, and my shiny, laminated, code tag was handed to me shortly after I arrived this morning. I feel official now.

So far, the biggest difference between AMK and Finebar is that the guys here actually work, and enjoy what they do. Nobody has complained about anything aside from the fact that work is really slow right now because of the economic situation. When the guys are complaining that they have to sit around and do nothing and getting paid for it, you know you work in a good shop.