Sunday, April 17, 2005

I'm Back!

This past week has been one of many exercises.


Having to go without my laptop, I was able to excercise patience and longing. I hadn't realized that this simple little box of circuit boards and buttons, had become such an integral part of me. I use it for work, play, creativity, and correspondence. Not having access to it for a week, was quite a challenge. I would take 5 minute opportunities on other computers to check email or a favorite web page or two. This simple little 7 lb box of magic. I have thoroughly integrated it into my world. I don't know what I would do without this wonderful technological marvel. When you factor in the fact that I used a Telex machine at the buying company I worked at, technology and I have come a long way. I can even remember using our first fax there too - the Rapicom machine! I love where we are now!

However, work was a challenge. I could no longer quickly enter information into a spreadsheet, hit the printer button, and have my reports looking neat, tidy and complete. I suddenly developed a good case of writers' cramp. You see, this is a fully automated office, gone are the typewriters of old. However, that automation came through the use of my personal computer - work didn't provide one - they loved the fact that I already had one.


We knew that this plant was winding down. That plant operations would cease as of the 15th of April. We knew that after April 15th, fruits, nuts and various candies would no longer be put in containers and processed through our machines or tables. What wasn't anticipated was the fact that the existing product would have to be put in unfamiliar cartons for shipping to customers prior to Friday's close of business. Wednesday, we were instructed that all product would be boxed, inventoried and shipped to a different location on Friday. This would be a feat, as there were only 11 to do the job of twenty. 1500 cases of product to remove from their original container and placed in a cardboard box, sealed and labeled, palletized and then inventoried for shipment. Usually I don't actually get into the packing process, but there was just too much to do, I dove in with both feet. My muscles can attest the fact that I packed 4 pallets of product on my own. It was physically challenging, yet it helped us stayed focused and not think too much about Friday being the last day we would ever work together as a team. We even worked overtime on our last day, to get the job done, so as not to let down those above us who had placed their faith in us.

Emotional Restraint.

Some of them came as long as 18 years ago. Most of them have families. Some of them were related. We had a brother and sister team. A husband and wife. Others were cousins. A few spoke no words of english. Most had children in school, learning english, living and learning about the American dream. One has a son serving in the Air Force, a proud mom with pictures to show to anyone who asks about him. Some came only during peak seasons, working to provide the much needed boost to a budget during the holidays. All came to work, dedicated to getting the job done. Dedicated to doing whatever was asked of them. Learn to arrange fruit in an artistic manner, learn to work on an automated machine line, learn to pack fruit by hand making sure to only pack the best available to enusre customer satisfaction. All those hands worn by years of hard physical labor. All those budgets, continually interrupted by the whim of management to save a few dollars and have a week long lay-off. Complain? Hardly ever. Certainly we had our share of gossip and squabbling. But when we needed them to get them job done - they answered the task, working overtime, being laid off, working an unusual Saturday to get the job done. Why because they had a level of integrity that had been instilled over the years. They had been taught the work ethic. For what? To be laid off after all this time. They endured 4 changes in ownership. They stayed each time. Each time new changes came, new rules to follow. But they endured. Not this time though. This last group couldn't make it work either. They relied on old business standards that clouded their "vision" and failed. Failed to keep these dedicated workers working. Failed to keep a good name above water. Failed to work as hard as their workers to keep the company going.

All I can say is this was the biggest excercise of all. Exercise great restraint not ot lash out at those over me and tell them how I really feel. To see the freight train coming at us, and not be able to convince anyone to move. It just steam-rolled over us, leaving a wake of unemployed in the aftermath. This season will come and go, with shuttered windows and a locked door. The seasons boost will have to come elsewhere. My heart goes out to them, the dedicated staff of my plant. I thank you, your efforts did not go unnoticed. I am sorry for your loss. I wish you well and I know, you'll be okay, because of who you are.