It was the third day that I showed up in Mac’s office at o-dark-thirty. Mac wasn’t a talkative guy but he was the guy who hired so I was advised to keep showing up first thing in the morning, sit in the office and sooner or later Mac would take pity on me and put me to work.
So I did. And, as advertised, Mac put me to work on the third day.
On the spot ready or not!
He handed me some rubber boots and led me into the belly of the mill. Ground wood was the department I got the pleasure of starting in. Worst, most physically challenging, dark, dank and just foul smelling place you can imagine.
It was loud too! Machines running 24/7 which to my surprise meant there were no breaks. No 10 minutes, no lunch breaks…NO BREAKS at all.
Then I met…This guy.
I was put on the line with him. See there were rows of these machine stations, 2 per row. So there were 2 guys filling there machines with wood, rolling the 800 lb steel carts over to the wood bin, poking the huge piles of hemlock or spruce with a long pole that had a 10 inch spike on the end, then loading up the cart(s) with wood, rolling them back and so on…
Each station had 6 portals to fill. The wood was placed inside the portals, the lever pulled and the wood was then pressed against a rapidly spinning carborundum stone that turned the wood into pulp for making paper.
What I didn’t know and found out quickly was that this guy was a master at “Jamming” the machine. He knew how to place the wood so that his machine slowed down due to the leveraged positioning of the wood. What that also did was make the other guys machines spin out of control!
I was quickly learning. I was running at warp speed while my “partner” on the line was semi-leisurely eating his sandwich giving me that sly “your such a newb” grin.
Again…pissed me off!
But I really didn’t know any better so I worked and worked and worked and seemed to never have 30 seconds to wolf down my lunch. And to think, I waited 3 days for this privilege!
The other challenging part were the rotating shifts. One week days, next week swing, then graveyard, then back to day, etc. Fell asleep at the wheel more times than I’d like to remember!
So finally after a few days of this I over-heard some other guys talking. Yelling actually.
“Quit fuckin me you son-of-a-bitch!”
Whoa! What was going on here?
I watched and saw the same scenario I was living on the line. One guy was running his ass off while the other was moseying and smiling.
Then I learned how to “Jam” my machine. Guess what I heard about 10 minutes later from THAT ∧ Guy?
“You’re Fuckin me man!” I grinned ever so slightly. That was the start of a good friendship and working relationship. He realized I was a quick learner, younger, faster and had more stamina than he did so he decided to work with me not against me.
Bam! Another lesson in persuasion. Observe, gather intel, deploy strategy and out-work/maneuver my counter part. Then make the peace and come to a mutually beneficial arrangement.
The other lesson learned for me was to be persistent and consistent. When I want something I never give up until I get it! Sitting in Mac’s office in total silence for several hours over 2 1/2 days taught me this lesson.
It has served me well ever since.
Almost forgot the small world story that happened at the mill. It’s a doozie!
One day the machines lost power and so we had a few minutes to swap stories. There were about 4-5 of us taking turns telling our story of when we lost our virginity. I know. Such a guy thing huh?
Comes to my turn and I begin to tell my story. About halfway through I got a weird look from one of the guys. I had just mentioned the girls name and how nutty she was and the drama she put me through, etc.
That was a mistake!
Turns out that girl was now married to the brother of one of the guys I was telling my story to AND he worked at the mill as well…OMG!
Went to the locker room after my shift, saw the now husband and asked to see a picture of his wife. Sure enough it was her. I said I kinda knew her from when we worked together at the local burger joint…did not mention anything else!
Dodged another unsuspected bullet.
I love sales! 🙂