Thursday, May 1, 2014
Whirlpool (A life of its own)
I worked for ‘Whirlpool’ in 1966, for a year. I ran a staple press machine, it was made out of iron, stood eight feet tall, stapled a box in four seconds, I had to push the corners of the box, shift it from one site to the other, a four step process, and under my foot was a peddle, when pressure was put on it, the machine was electrified, and in motion, thus came down the instrument that pushed a staple out of the head of the press tight against the cardboard box, and automatically a staple shot out of it, in a rapid motion: through the box, to its other side, making what it stapled snug as a bub in one second, four seconds per box. I flung the bosom of the box from one side to the other, then upside down and again one side to the other, as the foot peddle was pressed down.
The task consisted of standing on your feet all day long, remaining alert, hour after hour as the machine was at top speed, a staple per second, and after the four corners were done, the puddle was released upward, for the fifth second, to get a new box, and place the stapled box, to the left side for another person to take it. Thus, when I raised my foot, the machine stopped. But once accelerated it was gaged for intervals of one second per staple. In a like manner you had to measure your time, your speed accordingly, and by some secret mental process you did this to the rhythm of the machine, and the boss, my boss, or the floor supervisor, as is his rightful title, would be checking your foot every so often, should you let up on the acceleration.
The process required subtle judgment. A fraction of one second, you could lose a finger by having it stapled through the box. Or if the box was not where it was supposed to be, a staple through the finger, without the box, would be one’s misfortune.
The shoulder muscles and nimble fingers, and my foot pedal, did not coordinated with my brain; my body did not take over either, it needed my brain, and for the half second, it was somewhere else. As if out to sea. This was a learning process for me of course, one that would make me study my books, in another nine years.
While on this job it was impossible to think, only to concentrate on a four-second, four-step process, nothing else. I told myself then and there, I’d have to fine a profession. Other people have, why not me. Why not be an inspector, who timed this job at four-seconds? Be like him, instead of like me, who had to perform in four seconds. They walked around the factory as if they were of some noble class, an elite class, and they were, they were engineers. I was only eighteen back then, but I knew then, I’d have to throw in the towel at Whirlpool, it was a good job, it paid well, but just for missing one motion, in the clap of an eye, I almost lost a finger, God forbid, if I fell to sleep at the machine. And for any half second I lost talking or whatever, it took me a half minute to readjust: thirty-seconds, to rearrange my job, and that really angered the boss and time-keepers; matter of fact, the time-keepers would have to rethink their data sheets, had they been timing me. And this was for the corporation, not time effective, and that could cost me my job; and they were not afraid to let you know that.
No: 1054 (30 April, 2014)