Sunday, August 12, 2007

Death Eats Another Cracker

I was back over at Linda's a little while ago, checking out the other contest entries, you know, just to see what I'm up against :) I know this is going to be a random draw, but since a lot of the entries have a "I drank too much, and whoo boy!" kind of theme, and mine is no exception, I thought I'd mention the -other- time I felt like Death eating a cracker.. which actually has nothing to do with alcohol, and everything to do with sleep.

When I was first out of college, I was an ambitious little git. My first dream of becoming a doctor had died somewhere during Organic Chemistry, but not to be deterred, I decided I wanted to work in a research laboratory. Unfortunately, just out of college in Michigan doesn't lend much to that sort of a dream. My mom found an ad for a lab job in the paper, and I thought I'd try that for a while to get some experience and then see where life takes me.

As it happened, I fit in there pretty well, and eventually the dream of working in research fell by the wayside. I decided after a couple of years that I'd do my best to work my way up in this company, and see where I ended up. So I worked very very hard to become someone my boss could depend on, taking on extra projects, and doing my best to learn everything I could about the other jobs done by people in my department when I could. In the long run, it has worked, as I'm now the department supervisor. However, there was a week in which I was wishing I'd never heard of this place, much less wanted to work here.

One of my responsibilities now, as the person who knows how to do every job in the department (if not always as well as the people who do them every day), is to cover people when they go on vacation, including my boss. But, as I mentioned a couple of posts down, this can sometimes lead to longer hours. Two people in my department are responsible for inspecting the production equipment before work begins for the day. Since the production people start at around 5:30, the inspection routinely starts between 3 and 3:30 am. To make up for this, my boss and I relieve these two people early in the afternoon, to keep their hours down. And if I'm covering one of them, my boss will typically take over for me for the same reason.

However, one week a couple of years ago, my boss was going on vacation for the whole week. One of the inspection people was going on vacation that same week. So I was going to have to come in early, and stay until the bitter end, because 1. it's not my style to leave my coworkers "unsupervised", and 2. I had paperwork that needed to be done at the end of the day after everyone was done. I think I worked over 70 hours that week. And of course my sleep schedule was shot to heck. The only things I remember clearly about that week now are that Friday afternoon, and payday the next Wednesday. I had spent five days in the bitter cold (the production area I was working in is routinely kept around 36-38 degrees), a couple of days I had gotten done with work in just enough time to go home and go to bed, and I still wasn't getting eight hours of sleep a night.

You can imagine how I felt that Friday. I have never been that tired in my life. And it wasn't just the lack of sleep, my body had been working overtime too, trying to keep me warm all day while I was working in the production area. There was one thing that helped make up for it though. We get paid every week, and at the time I was still on hourly pay with time-and-a-half for overtime. That was the first and only time in my life the amount on my paycheck had a comma in it. I bought Death a box of fancy crackers that week, and wine and cheese spread besides!

1 fellow footsteps:

Linda said...

I should throw your name in the hat twice for going above and beyond the call of duty! I can only imagine how lousy you felt after all that but I'm sure that Death enjoyed the fancy crackers, the wine, and especially the cheese!

Not sure how I managed to miss this before but glad I found it!