Water Bored

Posted: January 31, 2008 in The Roper Files

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Wrote last week about operating a water-jet at my menial job or more accurately making repairs on it when it frequently breaks down. What I didn’t write about was when it actually works and functions correctly, which it sometimes actually does. After repairing it last week it’s run exactly the way it’s supposed to for the last four days.

Running a large quantity order this week; several hundred large steel parts. It’s relentlessly slow however; steel takes a lot longer than aluminum to cut. In fact the most challenging thing about it is looking like I actually give a shit about the job while it runs; I should get an Academy Award for my performance.

Bolt a large sheet of steel into it, submerge it under water and it pretty much does its own thing for about the hour and ten minutes it takes to cut up one sheet. Not much for me to do except stand there and be ready to hit the “off” switch should something go wrong. Doesn’t take real long to get bored, trust me.

One advantage to this machine is its size; it’s big enough for me to hide behind it and eat a snack. Crane my neck like a duck so the mini-donuts roll down my throat faster.

Sometimes I hide behind it and read a book. My employers are too smart to hook the computer in it to the Net; they know what I’d be doing all day.

But if the material is warped occasionally this thing will spray gritty toxic water everywhere, including all over me. There’s no safety shield to speak of although I have learned to clamp large sheets of aluminum to the machine to minimize this.

Sometimes (and not often enough) people I don’t like will walk by and get sprayed by it. Love to shrug my shoulders and tell ’em: “Oh yeah, like I did that on purpose!”

Always good for a silent internal laugh; one of those moments I live for. And it does help to alleviate the boredom.

Four ten-hour shifts a week. If they ask me to work Friday it’s all over-time but jeez…they usually wait until right before quitting time on Thursday to ask me if I want to come in Friday.

Not that I couldn’t use the extra cash, but after being sprayed with water for ten hours I know I can’t possibly sound TOO enthused about it. “Another ten hours of THIS? (splash) Oh sure!” But the over-time is sweet; they know I’ll be there unless something goes horribly wrong.

Just got through completing thirty hours of this madness today. Got to go in tomorrow and repeat this to both put in my forty hours and get my check.

Another rude 4am wake up call from the alarm clock. Another groggy, bleary-eyed trip across town on a freeway full of equally-pissed-off commuters. Another ten hours on my throbbing feet. Another ten hours of being showered by dirty grey water. All for a check that just barely pays off the bills; jerking off the wolves at the door for another month.

Am I man enough for this challenge? Can I take it? Will I bend? Will I break? Will I fold?

Damn right I will. Fold a deposit receipt and a handfull of bills in the front pocket of my work-shirt on the way home tomorrow.

It’s going to be a long boring ten hours. But I always make it; I always do.

Always.

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