I’ve Been Thinking

We attended the Free Thinkers luncheon again, recently.  I was seated beside a new member, and was guessing his country of origin, based on his accent.  Score one for the old guy.  He was Russian.  He studied English and German in University, and is qualified to be a professor in either, or both.  So, that means he’s working as an assembler in a plastics plant, similar to the son’s.  Always nice to know we’re putting the skills of our immigrants to the best use.

The reason I didn’t immediately place his accent was that he said he comes from Eastern Russia, Southern Siberia.  He said he could look out his back door into China.  I worked at the stamping shop with a young Russian who described his home town almost exactly the same way.  At least he had got a job as an engineer.  Thinker Russian said that he had decided to get rid of his TV, because there was nothing good on, and asked (told) his kids if they should sell the TV.  Engineer Russian did the same thing – scary!

The young lad across the table asked him what the name of his town/city was, apparently because he had some knowledge of the area.  He said he was from Kusnetzk.  I asked him to repeat the pronunciation and translate to English if he could.  I had heard correctly.  My name in Russian is Kusnetzov, not merely Smith, but (son of a)Smith.  He was from my namesake Russian city.  Please, hold your applause.  I’m only 50 miles from Smithville, here in Ontario.

The Mennonite lady was also there, although she’s actually an ex-Mennonite now.  As close as the Brethren are, I asked what the rest of the congregation thought she was doing while they were at church.  She says they’re waiting for her to repent of her errors and rejoin the flock.

She says they can go flock themselves!  She ain’t going back.  She’s moved to the big city with hot and cold running sin, and taken an apartment.  I must remember to ask what she’s doing to support herself.

Mennonites are cheeeap, at least the local ones are.  They could give my Scottish kin lessons.  They’d shit themselves rather than use a pay toilet.  The women make their own modest, ankle-length dresses with whatever fabric doesn’t sell, at the fabric shop. So here she is in a dress made of cloth which makes her look like an overstuffed sofa in a brothel, and a bright white pair of Avia sneakers poking out underneath.  They’re all air-cells and sparklies, not really completing the modesty theme.  She hasn’t completely left the entire mindset.  She says she’ll continue to wear the dresses, because that’s what she’s used to.

When I was setting the daughter up in the park, for the Non-Violence Festival, I met a dog-walking club/group (?).  As I was trying to carry her stuff from the car to the bridge to the island, I was cut off at the pass by 25/30 humans leading 15/20 dogs on the paved walkway around the lake.  The dog leading the parade was a beautiful Golden Lab, with his own Golden Lab, a stuffed toy half as big as he was in his mouth.  Later, I saw Mommy carrying, when his jaws got tired.  One couple was walking two dogs.  He had the leash for one, and that dog had the leash for the other in his mouth.

There was a young man who liked to view the lake and feed the birds.  He had some muscular dystrophy, and got around in a power wheelchair, similar to the daughter’s.  He liked to roll the chair near the water, and then sit on the raised bank and toss bread to the ducks and swans.  The week before the Non-Violence, he had been found drowned.  He was always happy, and had made future plans.  It is thought that he exited the wheelchair and had a muscular spasm at the brink, fell in, and, of course, could not save himself, and no-one else noticed.

I have a couple of blogs “in the can”, which will require the wife to help me add pictures.  We (She?) went through the digital photos on the computer, and set up a file for my posts.  We realized that some of the shots we wanted were in a scruffy, ignored pile of “bricks and mortar” photos, from before the arrival of the digi-cam, and scanned them in.  This impelled the wife to spend the best part of two days, organizing, labeling, and properly storing, envelopes of negatives and prints.

A short while ago, Ted @ SightsNBytes said that, when he started blogging, he intended to post recipes, and photos of his area, and trips.  Then he discovered he had constructive writing ability, and has never got around to it.  The wife asked if I was interested in using pictures of some of our trips, to post some photo-blogs.  Since I still haven’t discovered much constructive writing ability, hopefully with Ted’s permission, and your acceptance, I thought that I’d start working some into the rotation.

The white-elephant LRT has to pass under the ring-road expressway.  The region was just going to bore a hole through the embankment, and arch it with concrete.  The Ontario Ministry of Transportation insists that they must use special soil stabilization methods.  We haven’t moved one shovel of dirt yet, and the cost, for that one little section, has risen $2.5 million.  I think we’re screwed.

I went with the son to the Bulk Barn store today.  He spotted a new Aztec hot chocolate powder, with some hot pepper added, as the Aztecs used to drink chocolate.  I think I’ll try some tonight as we watch our British crime-show.  I think I’ll survive to post again soon.

I think that’s all the non-information I want to impart for today.  You’ll see me (I fervently hope.) again in a couple of days.

Archon’s Exciting Work Life

The inestimable John Erickson invited me to make him slack-jawed with tales of my work history.  The only thing about the story of me and my career that would make anyone go slack-jawed is why half of Southern Ontario hasn’t lapsed into a coma.

With no life-plan, and only a grade twelve education, I worked almost a year at a Royal Bank, before I realized that it and I were not good partners. I put in a summer season as the pro-shop assistant at a country-club golf course, although, as a paper-work diversion, I was on the books as the golf Pro.  I moved from Southampton Ontario, to Kitchener, because that’s where the jobs were, then. With no experience and little training, I went back to an adult education course.

After graduating (again), I worked as a Production Clerk at a shoe factory. The company moved me to a skate plant, where I set blades on boots. When they found that I could read well enough to not put out size 12 hockey blades to be attached to little girls’ figure skates, I became a Production Scheduler. They tried to train me for Quality Control, but a recession was on. I got a job at a steel warehouse/fabricating shop. I started as an Inventory Clerk, filled in for two months as Acting Inventory Manager, moved to Expediter, and later up to Buyer, over 7 years. Leaving there, I became a Purchasing Agent for a couple of years at a large millwright/rigging shop, with some metal fab. and machining. I left that company to be the Purchasing Agent at a large (400 employee) precision machine shop that made automotive, dental, medical and atomic energy parts, for four years.

I got a job as a fancy-named Materials Manager at a small auto-parts stamping shop for two years. I had 8 people working under me. The title just meant I had all the responsibility – with none of the authority. I got shit on from above, and had it rubbed in from below. When the company president found that I had ethics, he pulled the employment rug out from under me.

I tried outside sales, first for a small local courier, then for a safety-supply company, but, with no sales experience and no established territory, I couldn’t support the family. I drifted on and off unemployment for a couple of years. I delivered flyers and catalogs. I worked for a small, and later, a larger building-custodial firm. I spent a couple of years with a Security Guard firm. I patrolled a couple of downtown hotels, and then got moved to a shoe/boot/slipper plant.

I had worked with the leather-cutting department foreman years before. After about a year as security, he talked me into working for him. Starting at $7.01/hr, I worked up to $9.25. He put me on a piece-work job, where the previous operator had made $13.+/hr. Not only did I stay at the nine dollar figure, the company was busy going bankrupt, and I either went back to $7.01 or found a new job.

I took the seven bucks, and his shit, for a couple of months, until the previous press operator told me that her new employer was hiring – at $11.35. If you dig back to about August, you’ll find a post about how I got that job. The economy now booming, I kept that job for 17.35 years, through three corporate owners. The last wanted to expand too fast, and bought a lot of small plants, all over North America. When the boom went bust again, inevitably, they were asset-rich, but cash-flow poor, and jobs got eliminated until the entire plant closed.

I found that now, jobs were obtained by working through temp-agencies. I got a piece-of-cake job at a steel-parts producer. Just as I was about to be taken on full-time, the 2008 recession kicked in. Thinking I was only going to be laid off for three weeks over Christmas/New Years, I had the temp agency get me a fill-in job with a medium-sized transport firm. The parts firm went kaput, and I had to stick with the new job.

They were shipping steel coils by rail-car, to the prairies and B.C. I worked as part of a framing crew, using lumber to brace the coils from moving during transit. In and out of the terminal and the boxcars, we got rained and snowed on. Not properly wired for compressors, lights and heaters, it was stiflingly hot in the summer, cold in the winter, and dark in the rail-cars, on a four-to-midnight shift. Broken lumber for splinters, nails sticking out, nail-guns and circular saws, I’m surprised no-one was seriously injured.

It was a very physically demanding job, just at the time of life when strength, stamina and body control were waning.  I put in just over two years before qualifying for full government pension, got to Hell out, or got out of Hell, and retired.

It might be a bit different for people with a skilled trade, but for guys like me, working at one job, or for one company your entire life, was over years ago.  My father had had at least ten different jobs by the time I hit the market, and three or four more after I left home.  There are still exceptions.  One of the co-workers at the auto-parts plant retired with 48 years seniority.  He’d been there through six owners/name changes.  The joke was, that he had been waiting at the corner for a trolley-bus, and they erected the building around him.

Now you know the sad employment history of The Archon. Do you feel sorry for poor old Archon, or just sorry for yourself for having read this tale of woe?