Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Just Call Me "Flipper"

Years ago when I had a TV and cable to go with it, I used to enjoy watching The Food Network. I especially liked the shows about how things were made, getting a peek into an industrial setting, the big machines and the people working on the lines. I remember thinking that a job like that must be pretty easy and a lot of fun.

Well? It's not. HaHaHa! Aw, it's not too bad really, but it really isn't nearly as much fun as it looks. 

I was called in to work for last night so I went. It was a 7pm - 7:30 am shift... I like to work the night shifts because they are easier to get and they pay more. 

I was put on one of the Triangles, a machine that packages the cereal. We were going to be packing the cereal boxes by hand.

They were behind on a big order so we were expecting to really be cranking it out... and that is what we did. The goal was to run it at 70 bags a minute all night. Bags, as in the bags inside your cereal box. Which means there were 70 BOXES of cereal coming out of it per minute. 

I will tell you right now that is fast!

As we phased into the shift and relieved the day crew I went ahead and took the "flipper" position. I like doing it and I think I'm pretty good at it. 

The boxes come out on a conveyor belt and go through two checkpoints. One blows off boxes that aren't sealed right, the other blows off boxes that are too heavy, too light, or empty. (Those boxes generally bounce off of "the flipper"... me.) It's best to stand as close to that area as possible. I know it sounds weird but it doesn't hurt if you're hit from up close.

It DOES hurt if you're standing six foot away and a cereal box is hurled and smashes into you. Believe me, even an empty box will leave a bruise.  

After the boxes pass over the scale they flop out on another conveyor belt that is in front of me and I "flip" them up on their side and put them in groups of six. I have a special method... the first two I flip at the same time, one with each hand, then I hold the first one still on the belt with my right and and flip the next four up with my left... then I do it again one hundred kabillion times. 

It probably sounds easy but try taking 6 cereal boxes that are laying flat, and flip them up on their side in less than six seconds. As you're doing this you must also check for "rejects" that the machine missed, flaps or bags hanging out, bottoms or tops not sealed, those you quickly shove off of the conveyor. 

The next guy in line grabs all six boxes and drops them into a big box, then puts six more in the same box, which he shoves to the next guy who folds the top shut and shoves it into the taping machine which tapes the top and bottom of the box.

There's another guy that making boxes that he sets in front of the guy that is dropping the six boxes in them, and still another guy at the end of the line that takes the filled taped boxes and stacks them on a pallet. 

I came home with my legs hurting, my back hurting, my feet, oh my feet, and my hands are absolutely screaming.

I like working there though. I have learned a lot about industrial work and I find it very interesting. Also there is one thing about it that is different from any other place that I've worked at out here.

I feel like I fit in. 

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