Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The tribulations of the logical mind

Imagine this scenario at a workplace: two workstations of three persons each, in which one is pouring a automatically-measured amount of product into tins that were prepared by a second person and closed and placed in a box by a third. In most cases this would be a simple, straightforward procedure, except in this case the tins’ manufacturing process prioritized aesthetics rather than functionality, and apparently “tested out” by some desk jockey on a computer. The tins not only failed to allow a sufficient gap for proper closure, but many of the tins failed to secure properly even when they were empty. This resulted in considerable time lost in completing the entire process, because person number one was forced to stop for  a significant amount of time and assist the third person (especially if it was a person who is sluggish, which only puts further pressure on people trying to keep things moving).

In the end, despite that fact the tins were twice the size of the usual product churned out at these stations, the boxes they were placed in for further processing would only be half-full given a similar amount of time. Thus despite with two stations running, the amount of product would be the equivalent of just one station running for a product whose tins could be secured quickly.

Because of the limited amount of personal present, there was a delay in the further processing of the product in preparation for shipment. Now, for the logical male mind, the solution was simple: If it takes twice as long to secure the tins, then a fourth person should assist the third person in securing them, which would allow the first person to continue to work uninhibited, and you would essentially be putting out the same amount of product from one station with four people as two stations with six people. You would then free-up two people to work on further processing. It all makes perfect sense, right?

Not being a hypocrite, when I found that there was insufficient product being prepared for my end of the process, I took it upon myself to spend significant time as that “fourth” person at one station that continued to run after the temporary lead seriously misjudged the amount of product the second station had prepared, which was quickly exhausted. Would anyone else there have done the same as I without being told? No! I’m not this other person putting up a fa├žade of work that no one above her questions. When I mentioned my estimation of the situation to someone at the station it was readily agreed with. Surely someone might at least give a fair hearing to a suggestion the motivation of which was sound.

Well, that depends. When I offered this suggestion to the supervisor, the response was it was not my place to offer suggestions. How dare I! It was not only a question of “authority,” and of how things had “always” been done, but of competence. I wasn’t “questioning” the competence of a temporary lead who always used these opportunities to do as little as possible, but for a certain lack of imagination. After commiserating on the situation, the fault of which was apparently all mine (the temporary lead also failing to mention the significant aid I provided at the station), I had to be punished for my impudence, not just by being belittled and denigrated, but rather than taking the motivation for my suggestion for what it was (to relieve frustration and lost time), but telling me to replace someone in the third spot in order to experience the same frustrations. Sure, I wouldn’t “volunteer” for that, because the problem would still be the same; it is just me instead of someone else, ignoring the whole point..  

I’m at an age where my college education means absolutely nothing, if it ever did. I just want to get by until I can safely retire, and spend all of my time writing. But in the meantime, I have this damned thing in my head that keeps running up against other people’s idea of the order of the world.

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