Highs and Lows

Russ and I watched on on tenterhooks; if Bob could fix the machine I wouldn’t need to replace it, if not, I would have a full afternoon of busy busy work. The verdict came after what felt like an eternity; it was no use – the piece of paper and Sellotape combo wasn’t strong enough to set off the motion sensor that set labels to be made. I’m quickly learning that it’s the cut and dry nature of temporary factory work. Sadly, this was a genuine concern at the start of my working day yesterday.

This summer I signed on to a recruitment agency that caters exclusively for factories. They send me out to where I’m needed and I help local businesses, much like a really crap vigilante or Zorro figure, solely focused on the manufacturing industry. I do prefer working in factories to shops and cafes. There, there are fussy customers or kitchens that aren’t run well. And factories can be great places to work if you end up with the right people, or enough diverse duties to keep you occupied until the end of the day.

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However, the truth, and what puts most people off, is that most of the work is monotonous. Yesterday’s episode, for example, ended with myself, sitting at the machine, flicking my index finger in front of the sensor to make labels. 2,700 times at 2.5 seconds a time. What with the machine’s unreliable functionality, that meant I had to restart it every five minutes, this led to well over two hours of sensor flicking fun!

It wasn’t even the boredom factor that I deplored, I was sat in a wheely office chair for Christ’s sake: “how could I possibly complain?!” I hear you cry. Well, the normal thing for the human brain to do when faced with such a tearfully boring task is to let the mind wander and draft how this hilariously dull state of affairs could become a witty blog entry. In this case, the combination of bad machinery and my foreman’s lack of imagination meant that I had to count out 2,700 labels by knowing exactly how many times I flicked my finger. I couldn’t see the labels being made and, shockingly, the hopeless machine wasn’t helping count them with me. It can’t be done. It’s mentally impossible to sit for over two hours and count up to 2,700 labels at 2.5 seconds a label! I invite you to try.

Positively, the latter part of my day involved the very same labels I had just flicked into creation – because it’s always nice to see a project through to the end – and I found myself sticking them to the packages of dog food as they shot past on the conveyor belt. This was a much more demanding job and required quick reactions to sort out the good labels from the bad before whipping them on the boxes with cat-like reflexes (the Zorro analogy is quickly becoming more appropriate). The only problem I found with this task – because I’m a hard man to please – was that I was entirely alone in a maze of production lines. I couldn’t so much as make eye contact with another person. It was at this point I began thinking, what if I needed the toilet? I was feeling thirsty in any case, but there was no way I could leave – think of all the boxes with no labels! I was duty-bound to stay put and suffer the unsatisfied impulses of my body.

So I’m still here, it’s been sixteen hours but I’m sure I’ll see Russ or Bob soon. Whoever it is, I hope my professional rival doesn’t roll by; there’s still some left over tension and he’ll only want to see me wet myself.

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