Yea, one could bray ‘twas harm not done,
but suffice to say
that on this day,
this drillin' thing wasn't much fun!
And of course it goes without mention
that this incident
had indeed caught the boss-man’s attention.
Sure enough, Grundge approached the still flustered Davey, who, though in
reasonable control of his faculties, was broiling inside at the mere notion
that a machine had gotten the best of him.
In a surprising twist of un-fate, Grundge dropped his usual poker-faced rigid
stance and put on a grandfatherly demeanor.
He appeared nonplussed as he prepared to admonish Davey.
Of course Davey prepared for the worst, fully expecting to
be lashed with more than just a wet noodle. In fact, he thought some choice
expletives might be in order, coming from the Grundge’s mouth. After all, the
proverbial ‘horse’s mouth’ wasn’t available at the time, so Grundge’s would
have to do.
Instead of the dreaded fusillade of curse words, however, only a gentle warning
issued from the Grundgester thus: “you need to be extra careful coming through
an angle cut like that,” Grundge offered.
Davey, not snide, then took it in stride,
wowing and vowing to be careful inside.
All Davey could think was ‘Wow! Holy Sh**!’
That Grundgester hadn’t given Davey a hit.
And this, in elitist intellectual terms, was a ‘watershed’ moment. Thankful for
not being taken for ‘the woodshed treatment’, Davey happily settled for the
watershed. Yeah, that sounded better – cooler, too.
And it didn’t take long to realize that he had actually, in spite of himself,
his stubbornness and head perennially up his rectum, yes, he had truly LEARNED
something from this mistake.
Grundge had cut Davey a break. It was a real treat to feel like he was under
the Grundgester’s wing for once.
The main takeaway was exactly as Grundge had pointed out:
that ‘breaking through’ point in the drilling process was the most critical.
At any moment, the bit’s tip could catch and forcefully pull the work up the
shaft, as bits are basically threaded just like bolts.
The angle cuts exacerbate this tendency, as the bit’s fluting is angled also;
and in the event that the piece to be drilled is not held by a jig – but rather
by the hapless drill press operator’s hot little fist – ever more caution needs
to be taken.
Otherwise, the avid driller might get pissed.
So much for our languid history; this was learnin’ time here
at the Smedco so-called machine shop.
One day Grundge besought Davey and said, “c’mere – I want to show you
‘Oh, no’, Davey thought, filling his mind with ‘what-ifs’.
Instead of something to dread, Davey, still sopping from the figurative
watershed, was relieved and gladdened with mechanical discourse at the hands of
the Grundgester, who proceeded to painstakingly show Davey the drill bit
sharpening hardware and how to operate it.
What an awesome tool – and a great idea!
The ‘waste not, want not’ approach to drill bits was sensible.
'One good turn deserves
another'. Don't quote Davey on that one, turn or no; it's not his
original quote. DUH!So things turned, if you willin the
shop's din and swill,with no time to killyup, that was the
As the rotation of
such aforementioned drilling appurtenances blasted daily,
relentlessly, almost without reprieve through the much softer
surfaces of their targeted aluminum castings, friction – whilst
slightly and messily offset with cutting oil – took its toll on the
ostensibly hardened, or rather, tempered surfaces which were at all
times in full contact with said surfaces during friction-producing
He obviously had a keen knack for this, twisting the bit with an improbable
wrist motion as the tip passed across the grinder.
His experience and skill definitely gave him an edge over any competitors for
Next, Grundge addressed the fluting that was an integral but easily ignored
component of the drill bit shaft. It made perfect sense, however, if one
examined, with critical thinking, what took place once the tip passed through its initial opening.
The fluting along each drill bit's shaft
darn tooting! It enabled the craft
of gleaming metal to be cut
by each perfunctory robot!
Thus through castings bits would go
pushed by Sour-ho and Moe.
And long after interest passed,
Davey too, thought not so fast.
Getting a glimpse of how things worked
meant Davey piqued; and less he shirked
Through multiple sharpening operations and the grinding of daily use in
moderately grueling working conditions, bits did indeed wear out. It was an
eventuality that management planned for and executed as per immediate need and
extrapolations of expected loss to attrition.
Throughout Davey's non-stellar tenure at Smedco, the
overarching arrogance perpetuated by Grundge
– as perhaps was previously noted in this long-winded diatribe – was in
evidence, and it hung like a fog bank in the oil spattered atmosphere of the
shop. 'He'll get his comeuppance someday,' Davey thought on many an occasion.
Little Did Davey know just how severe – and sweet – the vindication would be!
But that was a part of the future which would unfold long after Davey's
blissful departure from Smedco.
For the task at hand, Davey just had to keep-a-drillin', if you're willin', and
try not to f*** up.
Davey had learned how to 'look busy' whilst mindfully
'skating' through most days in his previous employment, and could tread water
cranking out those nameless, faceless, nondescript widgets, while certainly not
winning any Brownie points with the Grundge.
For the Grundge had ways of keeping tabs on the worker-robots; to reiterate,
the layout of the drilling area saw to that, and any given daily output would
speak for itself.
Eventually, either by dint of Davey's piss-poor production capabilities or the
fact that he had hailed from a prior position as a welder, Grundge assigned him
to some spot welding tasks.
The spot welding rig was situated in a separate room between
the sh** house and drill press area, and was most likely poorly ventilated – a
bad sign for sure.
Davey would have to knuckle under, though his prior experience dictated he
should raise red flags in protest or turn and run like hell.
After all, breathing concentrated heated metal fumes needed no further
clarification as to its deleterious health effects.
But ruminating such sentiments to the brick wall that was Grundge would be, for
lack of a better term, a dead- end bleat.
So Davey took the assignment in stride.
Why didn't Davey get any creative thinking jobs? He couldn't
help noticing the little man who scurried calmly about the shop fixing various
things and wearing a contented grin at all times.The man got on just fine with
potentially aggravating stick welding operations, and Davey snagged glances of
his work as the man repaired a lift gate for the loading dock. 'Jack' seems a
fitting moniker; Davey doesn't now recall ever catching the man's name, so he
didn't know JACK.
Davey was terrible with names anyway.
But it irked him that Jack could work part time and have VARIETY.
Back to the gnawing gourd, and the smoky pit that was now
his daytime abode: Davey soon caught on to spot welding, never having laid eyes
or hands on such a machine previously.
The heat – via amperage and voltage controls just like any other welding apparatus
– could be adjusted to meet the project's needs, and these doo-hickeys didn't
need a whole lot.
The pieces to be spot welded were rectangular steel frames that would
eventually become substrates for various clumsy-looking food slicers.
The welds were deemed necessary due to gaps left in the frame during bending in
the fabrication process.
soon-to-be-spot-welded frames had been bent cold or with heat, the weld 2 B put
on, well, it had to be neat. Hence, spot welding. That meant no expertise in
the area of push-pull MIG [a technique involving a specialized nozzle that
pulled in addition to pushing the fed wire] or TIG – a whole school of
craftsmanship into itself. No way would the Smedco management spend that kind
of time or money.
Nope, this was a straight up
‘clamp it, fizz it, stamp it’ operation.
Fortunately, the spot welding machine had a foot pedal configuration; it made
At first blush, operating this
machine – as with just about any new gadget he got to play with – Davey thought
'mayun, this is waaaay cool!'
Though the process had that same perfunctory robotic quality about it, the fact
remained that it was still, for this blip in time at least, NEW.
So despite the inherent lack of cerebral/cerebellum challenge extant in the
clamp and stamp routine, it still had nuances in operations that could be
mildly stimulating. Thus, it was those slight variations from piece to piece
that kept Davey's interest initially.
Sometimes the metal contained porosity that went 'POOF!'
This variegation of metallic
constituencies was no strange phenomenon to the ever-learning Davey, with his
prior MIG and stick welding experience.
But the spot welding setup had, contrary to his presumptions, some rather nasty
fume spewing characteristics, the most predominant being the fact that escape
from said fumes was nearly impossible. The work was not only directly in front
of the operator, but also below, with the machine’s height set to allow easy
access for the robot-welder’s hands as she/he manipulated the pieces to be spot
The electrodes – north, south, positive and negative, resembled pairs of
skinny-assed vice grips.
These pincers, in turn – depending
on the operator’s dexterity and attention to the task at hand [pun intended] in
her/his timely push of the activation pedal – clasped the piece with the first
depression of said pedal, then as the operator applied more pressure [if memory
swerves, the mechanism could be set with a sort of timer], appropriate welding
current was sent through the pincers into the work.If all went well, then
voila! Proper fusion of the ends would be the end result.The machine,
therefore, was a means to an end.
Yet in the end, Davey could only wince.
Yes, he would wince,
since he wasn’t wearing orthotics;
no gelding he,
and glory be
no laugh or gaffe or wry “tee-hee”;
spot welding was ripe for ROBOTICS.
Indeed, if ever a use for robots was cooked up, this was IT. A perfect match,
to be sure.
Yet until cheap=assed
profit-minded so-called ‘companies’ like Smedco could figure out a way to
afford robots – or offshore the labor – this tiny smudge of a shop would be
extant in the working class world.
The infernal frames piled up at times as Davey attempted to escape those daily
doses of nasty metal fumes.
So time wore on and Davey, not
had stayed, as he’d nowhere to go;
he’d hoot, rasp and holler
for that measly dollar
whilst moppin’ it up at Smedco.
He could no longer skate
or nay, stay up late
a bad habit he’d need to expunge;
no, he’d show up to work
and try not to shirk
at least not in front of the Grundge!
Smedco was getting old, and Davey sensed it, big time. Yes, even with near
perpetually-dulled senses, he could spree the biting on the squall.
Grundge appeared to be losing patience with Davey’s perceived slowness.
A determination and
assessment of slow production rates by workers was not only
subjective, but also essentially a perceived phenomenon; the worker
in this case being the grate Davey H, who felt like he was putting
out, at least nominally.Truth be told, Davey had a simmering
grudge for the Grundge and all he and his lot represented: an
overbearing ‘nanny’ putz mentality that sought, with such smug
arrogance, to keep workers toeing the line – or should we say
‘towing the line’Oh, well; at least workers knew it and acted
accordingly. It kept them out of trouble most days.
to working class pride aside, it would be a cold day in hell before
Davey caved to an urge toward respect of management. In fact, his
resentment thereof was a well-honed habit pattern that infused his
every move, his bodily rhythms, and his efficiency.It was a thing
called ATTITUDE,and was, at this point, ingrained, dude;a
character facet,rightly tacit,and not to be eschewed.Things
were cooking behind the scenes at Smedco, unbeknownst to Davey. As he
returned, oh, so unwillingly each day to that slovenly weld shack, he
longed for even a mild challenge.
Yes, thanks to Smedco’s
pathetic offerings, Davey had long longed for something big or maybe
dangerous to test his wits and skill.That, in short, would not
come shortly; in fact, such things were wholly
unavailable.Relations with other workers had not improved
much, and Sour-ho continued his glowering poker faced-ness when
tilting his gaze in Davey’s general direction. Even Moe, who seemed
to be the only person on planet Smedco that recognized Davey’s
existence, had seemed to turn a colder shoulder in latter days.So
WTF was happening? Was something in the air?Try and guess if you
To do – or rather
redo – what Grundge was asking, or shall we say, saying or
perhaps demanding – would mean grinding off the welds from the one
side, flipping the pieces over, removing all other tentacles and
appurtenances recently placed thereon, rotating the piece yet again,
cutting a groove on the diametrically opposed side and re-welding the
new surface together.It would be an arduous, tedious,
knuckle-busting nightmare.And besides, should he undertake it, that
stack would take a coon’s age to finish.Oh, well, best to get
startedas Davey then farted;could he bring that stackback
Little did Davey know
how big a sucker he was being played for at the outset of this latest
charade. In the end, he just had to chuckle as under he did knuckle.
Boy was this ever a ploy!Davey faced mounting frustration as
he attempted to mount the frames and perform the next-to-impossible
splicing operations Grundge had demanded. In fact, the angst was
nearly insurmountable.It seemed that stack wasn’t going down at
all.Then, to add salt on the festering wound, lo and behold,
Grundge marched in with yet another dozen or so frames the very next
That was IT. Damnit,
everyone – even a sucker like Davey – has their limits. Davey,
despite being in a position of needing money, decided to bag it.
Outta here. Gonzo. Kaput. Severed. De-levered. Vaped. [Indicative of
a vapor trail being left in his wake.]So he planned his escape,
setting a date for the next day.On this, the
morning of the not-so-great escape,things began anew,as they
frequently do,with the women on one side of the shop,men on the
other. Woo-hoo!'Such humdrum, banal existence!’Davey thought,
fraught with resistance.Was this the cold day in Hell?
Cold day in Hell? Not
on your bippy, Kippy.No, this, dear readers, was a VENDETTA.This
was predestined, ordained, sought after, craved for, and bound to
happen.Davey never felt surer about an action than on this
otherwise ordinary day. So in a rare burst of organizational effort,
he placed his proverbial ducks in a row to out the door go.Come
lunchtime, Davey would sashay to the usual pizza shop, order and pick
up the usual gross greasy spoon style semi deep dish, oil sopped
cheesy pizza pie, find a spot to sit down, and chow down, guy.
sumptuously supped, not bothering to wipe off the fatty cheese
deposits from his lips, proudly cinching up his proverbial
bootstraps, ratcheting up his thoracic spine with a commensurate lift
of the chin, he commenced walking. And walking. And walking.My,
how good this simple act of walking felt!Even the polluted urban
air felt good in Davey’s lungs as he picked up the pace, heading
downtown to the skimpy flat that he still called home.Rounding
the corner of 14th and Whatever, Davey saw a familiar
vehicle coming toward him. Hey, that was What’s-her-name, a worker
She could have been a
Suzy or a Julie,and worked at Smedco duly,her wheels Davey
thought were cool, hegreeted her and truly.Let’s call
her Sheri for the purposes of this essay.“Hey, you’re going
in the wrong direction!” Sheri chirped.“No I’m not,”
Davey replied, “I’m going in the right direction!”It
was an enormous sense of relief and vindication that buoyed Davey on
this final walk home, and although he had almost no money, he felt
like celebrating.Regardless of all other circumstances,
leaving Grundge in the dust was the greatest reward Davey could