Monday, November 8, 2010

Doing "The Cereal Thing"

I was surprised to get the call and be sent back out to the cereal place, "Nature's"...

I like it there.

It's hard work usually. It's good pay always. It's long shifts. You gotta be ready to do the time.

The people are mostly great.


The management rocks.

It is the first and only place out here that I've worked where the management is professional. It's what I'm used to. After looking into it more... I have found that most of the management are Americans and Canadians from the east coast.... just an observation....

Once again going there is like returning home for me. They seem to like me there.

I like going there... except I'm not doing what I'd like to be doing. I'll doing anything they want. I'm just there for the paycheck. I am not their employee. I am just a temp. But I do think that I'd really like to be an Areoglide Operator. (It's a machine that makes puffed corn balls and puffed rice...) I started working on it before and found it to be fascinating.

When I started working at Twilight I stopped going to Nature's... since I THOUGHT I was going to have a full-time job as a baker with Twilight, with good pay, because that is what they said...

Anyway, it's kind of nice being back at Nature's even if I'm back to being a grunt and not able to train on any cool machines or anything.

Since I've been gone there have been a lot of new changes to the plant. It's gotten even cleaner, more professional, fine tuned.... There's new equipment. There are overhead conveyor's transporting product from the extruder's and the proctor out to the the triangle's...  and I just realized that must sound like a foreign language...

The extruder's are machines that make flaked cereals. The proctor is a huge oven that makes granola. The triangle's are machines that package the cereal.

Today I was placed on "almonds"... It's a rather important job. You make sure that there's enough almonds going into the cereal. The cereal that they were going into was a granola full of different kinds of seeds. 

It requires lifting 20 pound boxes of almonds and dumping them into a big hopper and making sure they don't get clogged up while going down the feeder shute to the conveyor belt which dumps them into the bucket belt with the main cereal. You also have to keep track of how many boxes you're putting in and which skids they are going into, plus a log of what time each skid was completed. It was very easy.

All was going well and I was just doing my job when all of the sudden... BOOOOSSHHH!!! I was covered in bran flakes! I didn't know what had happened at first... about a hundred pounds of bran flakes had fallen from one of the upper conveyor belts and I was up to my ankles in them! 

Then I noticed that they were also IN the almond hopper, and ON the conveyor belt heading toward being added into the main cereal mix.

I leaped off of the stack of pallets that I was standing on and slid across the floor through bran flakes to get to the emergency stop button. Once I hit that all of the belts stopped running, and it looked like I got to it just in time. 

Then I had a chance to really see what a mess we had. There were bran flakes in a 12 foot diameter that were about 8 inches deep. It was amazing really and at that point a bit funny as the triangle operator was just coming back from his break and his eyes widened and his mouth fell open. "We have a little problem here," I told him and his hands went to the top of his head. 

I was complimented and thanked for my quick actions to prevent our product from being contaminated and he sent me on lunch. They stopped the entire line to clean up and bring in another hopper to use for almonds. 

So that was the highlight of my three nights at "Nature's"... 

When I got home Saturday morning after my third 12 hour shift there I was very tired, sore, beaten and bruised. It's what I had to do to get a decent paycheck coming in though... 

It beats tossing around big dead fish... 

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