Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Working to Remember

“You can’t do it. You need something more creative.”

My father said these words to me in 1972 and, though I never told him, I took them as a personal challenge. I had just accepted a job at a Ford stamping plant. I would be working production on a repetitive job. I would do the same thing over and over and over, about 700 times per hour. Pick up a piece of metal, place it in a press, punch two buttons to cycle the press, watch the automation equipment remove or eject the part and pick up another piece of metal to repeat the process. One done and only five thousand five hundred and ninety-nine more to go.

I worked in a building that covered several hundred acres without access to sun light, breezes, rain, clouds, snow or fresh air – an unnatural and deadly environment. The plant averaged one death per year and two men were crushed and died in separate accidents during the two years I worked there.

I didn’t enjoy it but I was married with two small children. I had spent four years in the Army with an ending income of about $4,600 per year and I needed a job that paid well. It was a personal challenge to endure the boredom. I could do it. I did do it.

Now, I develop software. Today, I’m finishing a project that’s a first. None of the other developers on my team has done anything similar. It required thought, research and creativity. It was fun. I enjoyed it.

I’m glad I struggled with challenging finances, lost sleep, hours of studying and determination to get the knowledge and skills that I need to do my current job. It pays well, is safe, allows creativity and supports the good cause of educating students.

I’m thankful for my current job but I’m thankful I endured the two years at Ford. Most of the world has jobs similar to what I did. These jobs are unpleasant, unrewarding, hot, sweaty, loud, dangerous, physically demanding and boring. There are many, many unemployed or under employed or under paid who would gladly accept one of these jobs.

One of my goals in life is to remember the challenges, struggles and hardships so I can empathize with others who haven’t found the good fortune that has come my way.


Blogger Buffalo said...

Too many people forget the journey once they arrive at the destination.

1/23/2007 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Back in the 70s, I toured the stamping mill and the Ford plant in Detroit (the River Rouge plant). I was never so glad to be able to walk out of there as a teacher.

1/23/2007 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger Alex Pendragon said...

As bad as I might imagine MY job to be, I always consider the job and untouchable in Bombay usually has to settle for and I feel MUCH better. Not for him, but for me.

1/24/2007 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger anonymous julie said...

Wow! You've been writing a lot lately.

I've wondered how it would be to work in a very repetitive sort of job; if I would enjoy it, and for how many weeks or months.

1/27/2007 01:19:00 PM  

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