Friday, April 1, 2011

All About Granola Bars

I miss my daughter. I love her. I wonder if I will ever see her smile again... I mean while she is looking at me. For now I have no contact. I know she is in pain, from her tonsils. I want to be there for her. I guess she does not want me there.

I had a long week of work. The 12 hour shifts can be killer. I fit in here I think. These are all hard working people like me. It is quite a mix of people.

I have actually worked out there off and on for about 3 years now but as a temp.

When I got the "scheduled temp" position it kind of changed my world there. Suddenly the faces that I knew well and had worked with over the years saw me too. Instead of walking through the hallway with everyone ignoring me, now they smile, wave, kid with me, and call me by name.

I am still... just ...a... temp.... but it is different now.

The company has hit a slump right now. They say it happens every year. Production pretty much stopped except for on the barline where I am. We make granola and rice bars.

They cancelled any other temps coming in and were just offering the hours to company workers and the scheduled temps. I was offered an extra day so I took it. I put my hand up first. I want to work. They gave it to me.

So I have worked... I had 12 hour shifts Monday thru Thursday. Wednesday I did come home for 5 hours because we were down... then I went back to complete the shift. Once we got up and running... we were running... and running hard.

I've gotten rather good at "throwing bars" .... there are two moving conveyor belts in front of you. The one closest to you has bars on it. (packaged granola or rice bars) The one furthest from you has boxed off areas that the bars are to go into. The bars must be standing on edge sideways to fit into the boxes correctly.

Your job batman, is to grab up 6 bars off of the conveyor and slap them on edge into the other conveyors slots correctly.

In the beginning it was really hard to do. The bars are coming at you 300 per minute, there are bars everywhere. It seems like so many and it runs super fast, so it can make you freak out. Sometimes they are really close together and hard to pick up. Sometimes they are oily from vegetable oil.

You know if you are in the front position you must pick up most of the bars. You must be accurate too, the bars must go on their edge, otherwise the carton machine will jam. If you aren't accurate you may as well not bother.

The person behind you picks up what you've missed and works in WIP (work-in-progress, it's just bars that have fallen off the belt at the end because they were not picked up or because a machine down the line was not working earlier so it's just bars that were run off the line and boxed... we work them back in)

So you must be fast and accurate... Did I say that before? It is stressed. I just dug in and said to myself, I can do this. I've always been good with my hands, I'm fast, I can do this. 

It is a matter of muscle memory for the most part. You do literally "throw" the bars. You pick up three in each hand, slap them together and "throw" them into the slot. That is the fastest way. I've found that using my thumbs helps them to remain straight.

Now I can pick up and throw 6 bars per second. (Yeah buddy that's fast) I just can't do it on a regular pace yet. After about two or three hours I get tired. I start to miss. Bars fly out or go in a crumpled mess.

Some of these other gals are much faster than I am. They have been doing it for years. But I was still rather put out when I took the second position, and this gal in the first position picked up and threw every single bar coming down the line. Wtf!

I had no WIP to work in and she was leaving  me no bars to pick up... A lot of her bars didn't go in right so I fixed them as they went by... Then I filled the boxes for the carton machine a couple of times and basically stood there being pissed off for a while.

There was absolutely no reason for her to go 120 thousand mile per hour when she had a second down there to pick up what she missed (me) .... but no... she picked up and threw every... single.. bar. Even though a lot of the throws were bad.

I guess she was trying to teach me something... Oh and I learned....

She did that for about a half hour and then walked off with no warning leaving the entire line to me, by myself, while I was on the end and needed to be at the front at that point...


It turned out okay because today I worked on her shift and got a chance to show her what I can do. She was working as an operator. I started throwing bars as fast as I could.... best I can do right now is pick up damn near everything, I miss some, one, three or six bars per throw,  but hardly any of my throws need to be fixed.

The carton operator also recognized me from working with me before and commented, "Wow! You're fast!'"

It made me feel a bit better. People must think well of you for you to stay here...


  1. It's because you rock at whatever you do...
    love you,

  2. Thanks Sabine, love you too :)