Category Archives: The Job

Help! Creativity Needed!

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Help! Creativity Needed!

Okay, all you fabulous creative people! I’m a big recycler, and I’m dreading the thought of throwing HUNDREDS of these into the skip! Any ideas on what they could be used for? About 6.5in across, and NOT recycle marked, they are lids to medical sharps containers that are defective (in that the white plastic bit doesn’t slide easily). Once that white bit is fully closed, it cannot be opened again – these are meant for biohazard needles and to be incinerated when full. Please help me come up with ideas to save them from a landfill!

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Lift that Box, Tote that Chair

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Thought I’d share with you a wee bit of my work duties. I only took these pics as I was suffering with the damn sinus infection I’ve had since the 18th, and it was dammed hard to do my job on Monday. So these are 100% feel-sorry-for-me photos.

I had two returned chairs in big awkward boxes that needed to be put back into stock. First I had to see if there were other chairs in stock and on a shelf so I could put these two with the rest. Well- I never have to, but it is the right thing to do, and the logical thing to do. So that’s what I try to do, of course.

The bastard chairs only lived in one place – up on a C rack – meaning they were not gonna be easy to put away if I still wanted to be right and logical. Dammit. The only logical place that they would fit was up there in the sky…

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Keep in mind that I’m 5ft7in, so my eye-level for taking these pics was already close to 6ft or 3 metres off the ground. Sigh. I was daunted.

But. Yes. I horsed them up there, panting and wheezing and whathaveyou. But I did it, despite being sick as a dog and clumsy as hell.
>

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I am rather proud of what I can do when it has to be done and I’m the only one who can. I’m not too shabby in the muscle department either these days!
And I’m nearly entirely over my fear of heights now, too. >

Chill Factor = Low

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I have to say that while the winter and spring have been windier and wetter than usual for most of Ireland, it has been pretty much the same old, same old around my part of Mayo. While Cork was sinking underwater and Limerick was blowing away, I had a plant fall over a few times and the empty rubbish bin went for a short roll about the back garden.

Its also not been particularly cold. Light snow a couple of days, frost in the morning occasionally. I’ve taken photos of the white stuff every time I could, but that’s not been often.

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Once on the way to work, I was surprised to suddenly find a bit of slush on the road – there was none just a few miles away where I live.

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One day at work, the snow came down quite hard. But it didn’t stick long enough for us to even have a snowball fight (dammit).

The second week of February, it snowed more at home than at work for a change. When I went upstairs to get out of my monkey suit (work clothes), I saw the tracks I’d left backing into the driveway.

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Nearly perfect job I did, if I say so myself! It looked so strange I had to get a picture. Ears? A flower? What do you think? If I get some creative ideas I could try to make some art out of this. I need some inspiration!

I was going to put up a few more, but I think I’ll save them for their own post. Artsy-fartsy stuff, you know!

So, I Have to do This Now at Work…

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Some jackass has stolen two of my drinks out of the work fridge. Yes, I get made fun of for my slightly passive-aggressive note. But I still have my drink at the end of the day since I started doing this.

Asshole never copped to doing it, either. I wouldn’t fuck with me either when I’m thirsty.

Overly-friendly People are a Danger to Themselves

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I just don’t know how to even tell this story…

Ye know I work in a warehouse. We have drivers that come in to do home deliveries, and I see the same set of fellows at least once a day as they load up (or drop of returns, my area). So, I’ve gotten to know all of our drivers, as you do, and have the craic with them on a daily basis.

The second explanation needed to tell this story is that the sales team, in the office, rarely will come out into the warehouse. The team happens to be all women, and one in particular is a very outspoken, jocular kind of woman (and is rather loud to boot). She’s never timid about coming out to the warehouse and shouting for whomever she is looking for.

In this case, today, it was me.

Herself comes out to my returns area and tells me what she needs ta, and while there we all have a bit of a chat with one of the drivers, who is also leaving me returns.

I couldn’t tell you what exactly she and he were talking about, but as she left, she gave him a playful punch in the shoulder… she’s that kinda gal.

What she didn’t realise is that he only has one arm, and she had punched his plastic prosthesis.

Her: thwack! “OW!!!”

I don’t know who laughed harder: me, the one-armed driver, or the other driver who witnessed it all. I know I about pissed myself.

This is why you don’t get touchy-feely with people you don’t know, just because you are a ‘girl’ and can get away with it!

A Two is a 2 is a II

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I now am in charge, exclusively, of Customer Returns in the warehouse. I don’t mind a bit, despite the fact that this is not the job I was hired for. I still do that one, too.

Returns means I’m in the sales office a lot. I have to ask a lot of questions and beg for paperwork, so I can get all the pallets and pallets of shite out of my little returns area (and lawsy me, does it pile up fast). Sometimes, the returned item is jus’fine, and can go back on the shelf for another delivery.

Sometimes it’s a broken piece of crap. That’s when I have to get the sales manager involved.

Last week, I had an item to ask him about. He needed to look it up in the computer first. I’m standing there, waiting, and I see that he’s having an issue typing in the name of the product itself.

He calls out to another office worker sitting at a desk in front of him, “Hey, how do I make the symbol for two, but it isn’t a number?”

The sales person turns around, looking baffled. Not at the question, no: trying to think of where it might be on the keyboard.

I’m standing there in my grimy steel-toe boots, grimier hi-vis jacket, and comfy many-pocketed work trousers; sweating as I can’t bear the heat in the office as compared to the warehouse. I can’t watch this any longer, not even for the craic. “It’s just two capital letter i’s. Roman numerals.”

Sales manager is all kinds of thrilled and thinks I’m a bloody genius. Says to me, “That’s brilliant, we could sure use you down here. Are you sure you don’t want to come back into the office?”

Not for all the tea in China, as my mother would have said. I mumbled something about watching a lot of old movies and teaching myself Roman numerals so I could read the date the movie was made. But that was a lie. I learned that shit in fifth grade. Maybe earlier.

It especially struck me funny when I saw this, via the Huffington Post.

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Sigh.

Big Thank you for the Lorry Man

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More work nonsense! I laughed my ass off last week when I found this note taped to a returned item.

Probably most folks wouldn’t get the giggles like I did, because they have this “maturity” thing that I lack. I think Martina (who wrote this) also had second thoughts about calling it Annmaire’s (sic) box, and decided that clarification was needed. I’m not just talking about the brutal spelling.

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A transcript:

Lorry Man

Hi Brendan
Can you Please
Pop you head
Round the door
to Annmaire
Re her box (Wheelchair) in
Warehouse Now
Big Thank you
Martina

It’s almost a poem, isn’t it?

Heavy Machinery

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I thought you might like to see some of the equipment I work with. No, not terribly exciting, but it is all new to me and such a learning curve. I wish I’d had a blog ten years ago, when I went from office to horse-farm; now THAT was a huge change! At least here I don’t have to hook up messy greasy slippery hydraulic lines.

But first: on Friday I was behind a digger for a little while, on my first lap of the drive to work.
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I had to hurry to get my phone out, as I wanted to see how tight a fit it was going to be. I have to say, yer man didn’t hesitate a second. He did raise the front bucket so he could pull out far enough to see. Which was worrying as there are power lines right there.
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Bucket up! Do you see the painted lines on the road underneath? Yes, this is a two-way road. I takes my chances here every morning. I never worry about fitting my car through the tight space anymore, but do I worry about the eejits turning in from the main road and the excessive amount of stray cats that run across in front of me. Sigh.

Off to work now! I have now been educated on the use of our massive double-chambered plastic baler.
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Oh, it’s a little too full. You have to drag that top part over (from r to l in this pic) to turn it on and compress the plastic. But it gets overfull so fast, and then you can’t move the press. To be honest, I have to make a hell of an effort to pull it over, sometimes involving bracing my feet on the machine and using my legs to do the work. It is heavy. The first thing is to smush the extra plastic down so the press has room to slide over. Guess what the best way of doing that is?
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Yes, climbing up into the damn thing and stomping around! Feels incredibly safe to do this, of course, getting your boots caught and finding low spots and nearly falling over sideways, with nothing to hold on to. Plus – I don’t weigh nearly enough to do a good job of it. A terrible complaint to make, being too light!

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But the baler is dammed good at its job, and it is rather satisfying to see just how much all that pallet-wrap can be compressed. Of course, I’m happy that they recycle this stuff rather than throw it away, too. It’s also kinda fun when the packing material has an air bubble in it and pops like the world’s biggest bubble wrap.

I drove this for the first time last week:

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Just a common forklift. No, I didn’t actually fork or lift -just backed it in for charging (it’s electric). But no one ever gave me a single lesson – I just decided to give it a go. Pretty easy really – once you get used to the idea that the back end has only one wheel and can pivot on it 360degrees. Okay, honestly? I took ages figuring out how to back it up in a straight line because of that little feature.

I also had a proper lesson on the big pallet-mover. After farting around for ages trying to move one pallet from only the second level of the racks, I realised I need more lessons.

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I just can’t seem to get a good photo that shows how intimidating this thing is. That’s my coworker Mick – he is only about 5ft 4in, so he makes it look smaller than it really is. Oh well.

I’m on the closing team, and we have to move whatever company vans and trucks are staying overnight into the warehouse. This is because despite our 8ft tall security gate, the very very local bad elements will come in and drain out all the diesel. Nightly I get to drive someone’s big van, and twice now I’ve piloted our one actual big truck. I’ve tried three times in the past and failed: at first I didn’t know how to start it (there is a secret button that just looks like a battery-warning light to me), and the second time I couldn’t find the emergency brake or handbrake. It is a weird short knob instead of a lever with a button at the end. Third time I couldn’t find reverse – a ring around the shifter you have to pull up only to get into reverse. Hopefully now I have it all figured out!

Hope you enjoyed learning about this stuff as much as I have!

Gender Equality in the Warehouse

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I’ve had a reaction to my last post that made me think. My dad wondered if the reason I didn’t get a gun on Wednesday was because of my gender. The guys trying to put me in my place, so to speak.

I really don’t think that’s the case.

Regarding the guns – there are four extra people in as summer workers, so four ‘spare’ guns are being used. Four more are broken and there isn’t anyone to fix them this week. Plus, Wednesdays are crazy busy for us shipping out stock (just ONE truck had so much stuff lined up we could barely move). The picking of orders to ship takes highest priority – as it should – truck drivers are on a schedule and we won’t make any money if we don’t ship things out.

They also had one of the summer lads cutting brush and pulling weeds in our parking lot landscaping, because there was no gun for him, either. Now, they don’t know that I would rather like that job, being a gardening kinda person. The management gave what they considered a shit job to a teenager. They gave me a role in helping to pick. Hmm, pretty sure this kid has been doing that by himself for a few months or so, and would maybe be a better choice?

But my point is that they didn’t give me a shit job, when they could have quite easily.

They could have made me clean.

One thing I’ve always hated, hated, in office jobs is when it got slow and I would ask for something else to do, and they would tell me to clean. Ugh! Because as a female office worker, if you aren’t typing then the only other thing you are suited for is cleaning. Fuck right the hell off with that bullshit.

I’ve offered to clean up in the warehouse, when I had a half hour or so with no gun. I don’t mind it, because every damn day a team of guys goes through all the shelves and picks up empty boxes, loose cardboard, tape, and scads and scads of plastic wrap. It has to be done – the pickers are in a hurry and don’t have time to clear up the rubbish as they go. We recycle just about everything, by the way. So that didn’t bother me, it’s a manly job and all. But if they wanted me to sweep or mop or clean the countertops, I might have gotten pissy.

There used to be a female warehouse worker, probably a picker. I used to see her loading the trucks and having a laugh with the drivers. She quit back in April or so, when her husband had to quit (he worked in a different warehouse, I used to deal with him a lot from the office). I’ve used her former gun, it still has her name scratched into the plastic. One day when I said I was using her gun, my coworker said, ‘Ah, the Amazing A….’ I could tell this was not sarcasm: he meant it. They miss her. She had respect.

I have no problem accepting that I’m the new full time hire and everyone knows more than I do. I’m working out who to go to with questions, but I always learn from the answers so I don’t have to ask again. I must emphasise that they do not, as a rule, treat me like I’m weak, incapable, or silly/stupid because of my gender. I’ve heard two people choke up short when about to say a ‘bad’ word, but I consider that more because I’m American than because I’m a female. People in Ireland understand that Yanks have a problem with ‘bad’ words. I am not one of those kinda Yanks! As my blog evidences; if I want to say fuck, I say fuck. Funny thing is, up in the offices the ‘girls’ also all curse like sailors. We never do on the phone, but between ourselves? Oh yeah.

I also recall my manager (female) doing the same choke-up thing when I first started in the office. Perhaps it’s just what is done, when you don’t know someone that well? I can’t claim to be an expert in what people do, or why, or when.

In any case, I know my place in the warehouse. It’s bottom for now, because I know nothing, Jon Snow. I’ve always expected that I have to prove myself to be physically strong and mentally competent to move up, because of my gender. I’ve always expected that I have to work harder just to be considered equal. I’m well aware of that, with my decades of experience at different jobs.

Sometimes it goes the other way: instead of treating you like you are weak, the men will give you a really, really, hard job that they could barely do, to prove that you are useless. Done that a thousand times already, and I nearly always succeed. I learned that lesson the first time in the early 80′s in a mosh-pit – some guys would slam the girls twice as hard to ‘prove’ they shouldn’t be there at all.

Three weeks in: other than what I’ve mentioned about language, I haven’t noticed anyone treating me differently. I have to say, I’m really pleased. Maybe Irish men are just way more awesome than American men? I’m biased, of course, since I married one.

Ending note: I want to tag ‘my gun’, when I get it, with something original. I’m open to suggestions, please!

Picking.

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Not my nose.
Not my arse.
Well, maybe my arse. A little. It gets itchy when I walk all day and I get sweaty.

Week three of my new warehouse job, and there is a serious dearth of handheld scanner ‘guns.’ I have no idea why they we call them guns; they look like a 1980′s mobile phone and they run Windows. Can you imagine the death toll if actual firearms used Windows? The Blue Screen of Death would be the Red Splatter of Death.

There aren’t enough guns to go around. There are four teens working for the summer and they all have one. All the regular folks have one. In theory there are four extras, but none of them work and our only IT mage is on holiday this week. I rather need two to do my job quickly, but I’ve been getting creative by taking iPhone photos of the screen, or using old fashioned pen-and-paper.

Yesterday I used one gun until the guy who had carved his initials in it came back from another warehouse. Then up ’til lunchtime, I used someone else’s as they didn’t need it right then (but he still had it close to hand – these dudes are seriously protective of “their” gun. After lunch, I was shit outta luck. So I helped one of the pickers (the guy who trained me to do the counting: he refuses any manager title but he pretty much knows it all and locks up the entire building when we leave).

This morning, SOL again. Word came down from above that I was to help another picker all day today. Um, okay. About 1.5 hours into the morning, my guy – we’ll call him Frank – told another guy that he was told to ‘have her help you but don’t train her.’

Riiiiight.

Now, I see the reason behind this statement. They don’t want me to be an actual, full-fledged and edumacated picker because when it gets crazy busy, I’ll get pulled off my real job to help. But seriously, how can you do any job for eight hours and not get any training?!? I’m probably already a better picker than the teenagers. Truth – the full-time guys bitch about them constantly. And by the end of the day Frank felt comfortable enough to slag me off when I screwed up, which was wonderful. I felt like one of the guys. Can’t wait to until someone calls me a cunt like they do to each other all day – I bet it will just pop out of someone’s mouth and then they will go bright red. I will collapse laughing.

I still haven’t learned the proper name for the thing I call the pallet mover, and still haven’t driven it yet. But everyone does, some better than others, despite the huge warning sticker on it stating that untrained personnel can not use the machine. It is dammed intimidating. I tried to take a sneaky pic for you:

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But it’s not very good, is it?

I also probably won’t be using the forklift anytime soon. This one fella drives it quite a lot, and he makes the tires smoke with the tight spins and crazy manoeuvres. I stay outta his way.

I did have my first experience using something I at first called a dolly, until I finally heard the preferred term: pallet truck. Easy enough, I’ve called a dolly a hand truck before because that’s what Ohioans called it (but I still won’t call a shopping cart a trolley. Or maybe I do. Damned English language is so flexible and regional). Seriously though, just getting the lingo right is a learning experience for me. Ooooo, I hope that doesn’t count as “training!”

I am pretty terrible at working this thing, still. I can park a loaded truck just fine, but I’m doing something stupid when I try to get it under a pallet. I think I’m going too wide, maybe. Yes, jokes were made about ‘that’s why she drives a Mini!’ Heh. It’s sort of like backing up a vehicle with a load on a hitch at the back – but you do it in front of you instead, and the turning angle is amazingly sharp. I’ll get it.

What I will count as training is that I used it as a skateboard.

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I’ve been jealous of everyone just hopping up and scooting off at speed when the truck is empty like this. And then steering around corners with surfer-esque ease and elegance. It looked like loads of fun, but I’ve never used a skateboard, so was a little timid. Frank showed me his technique and the next time no one was looking I gave it a go. Wheee! The truck in the pic was the good one to drive, it didn’t tip over to the left with my weight on the left bar. I noticed that some of the guys stand on the left bar on their right foot, and push with the left foot on the outside, some stand on their left foot and push in the middle. But everyone stands on the left bar, hmm. I’ve tried both ways but I think it might be easier to push lefty. My big-ass foot kept getting caught under the middle.

So, to shut the hell up finally, picking is hard work. I’m tired, and sore in places I didn’t know could get sore. I only said one box was too heavy for me, as it was well over my head and I couldn’t budge it at all. I think I did well, however much I will need to take some Advil before bed so I can sleep.

The times I was called a bad driver and thick? Those are gonna be the source of my happy dreams tonight. I’m grinning just telling you all that!