Friday, November 26, 2010

18 Months

On November 22, 2010 I finally -- after 1.5 years of spotty, at best, employment -- landed a full-time job with all of the trimmings and benefits. To recap, I was dismissed from Tate & Lyle on 5/25/09 as an "economic cut-back." I was not "laid off," as the powers-that-be, clearly, invited me to never return to the facility. Thus, I took all of my personals from my work area and my locker (with the exception of my stereo, which resided in the QA laboratory; it remained until its untimely death a few months later), turned in my ID badge, left my hard hat on the ridiculous "trophy case" in the breezeway, and walked into the slobbering jowls of the unemployment dogs out in the cold, cruel world.

It's a good thing that the company felt compelled to provide me a severance package for the purpose of keeping me from finding a lawyer and suing for wrongful dismissal. First, I could not have won the case, as -- with 27 years of incidents with which to work -- they could have proven that Mother Theresa was an unfit employee. Second, Tate & Lyle is a monstrous corporation, and can afford high-dollar, pinstripe-wearing, Ivy League lawyers, whereas I would have had a problem even finding one, if he/she were across the street, waving a sign that said "Will litigate for food."

So I began slowly constructing a résumé, listing all of the areas in which I had worked in 27 years of employment with the same company, and pointing out all of my significant accomplishments. To wit, after I had it all on the word processor, I could not -- for love nor money -- fathom why I had lost my job. Now, while it is true that I am a less than sociable creature, and a bit of a curmudgeon, I worked hard, and put in long hours doing many things which other people were unwilling to do. I believe that I am conscientious, and quality-oriented. In fact, I argued many times for the deciders to upgrade our quality specs. And, when asked my opinion, I gave it freely and liberally, at times to the consternation of the inquirer.

I worked in the Receiving department for four years, Ethanol and Waste Treatment for three years; the QA laboratory (without benefit of a degree) for three years; participated in a research project at the corporate headquarters in 1991, and was selected as a shift leader for a new process; learned the sugar-from-corn process well enough to write the Skill Block manual for said process, and illustrated same utilizing PowerPoint software; went back to the QA laboratory in 2003, and got the axe in 2009.

When I called my lab manager a few days after my dismissal to ask some stupid question, she started to cry, which was just too much for me to absorb. Honestly, would you have fired me? Doesn't matter, it happened.

There was a point at which I said to my young bride how lucky I felt to have done so well, financially speaking, for so long. To this she replied, "It wasn't luck! You worked hard, and put in long days and nights to help that company move forward! They're stupid, and I hope they all die in a plane crash!" Her adamant defense of my performance aside, I pointed out that there were many other people with only a twelfth grade education who worked just as hard, and were just as dedicated as I, but who had never been able to afford a vacation to Walt Disney World; so I still felt lucky.

Anyway, after my résumé made it onto the world-wide-web, I got a call from a temp agency -- ResourceMFG -- in September, 2009 for a job that would last until the end of the year. I learned the process there well enough that they called me back for several more short stints through the spring and summer of this year. I didn't know at the beginning that they were paying me more than some of their actual employees, as well as the temp-service fee -- but, hey -- you get what you pay for. However, that company simply doesn't have enough steady business to justify offering me full-time employment.

Then, in July -- when I was trying to figure out what to do after my severance package ran out -- I got a call from another temp agency; Aerotek. They had a possibility at an independent lab that does all kinds of testing on all kinds of materials. I got myself scheduled for an interview, wore my one suit, well if you're reading this, you saw that story in the previous post.

So, I have been doing that job to the best of my ability (still without benefit of a degree), and working long hours to complete many "need-it now" type tests. I have been surviving without medical insurance, as I had gotten pretty well stocked on all of my maintenance medications. Then, I ran out of insulin -- that's bad. Upon consulting a local pharmaceutical expert at Mulberry Street Pharmacy, my young bride and I learned how much my insulin costs without benefit of insurance -- that's worse.

By contract, I still had about 290 hours to work before I was eligible for employment by Galbraith Laboratories, instead of my temp agency, so I stepped into the Lab Manager's office one afternoon, simply to ask if I would be required to work out the company-mandated 90-day probation once I made the transfer from A to B. He replied that, no, I had already been there longer than that as a temp, and my benefits would start, for the most part, upon my changing employers.

Then, he inquired why I was asking. So, I told him about my maintenance meds and the requisite expense of same. He then called the temp agency and bought out my contract. I am now a full-time lab analyst with a company that has a very good reputation for accuracy and dependability. I run samples for companies from Bowater Southern in Calhoun, TN to Saudi Arabian oil refineries looking for X in their Y samples (please excuse my tendency toward secrecy, but I don't want to bugger this job, understand?)

And yes, it's a serious cut in pay as compared to Tate & Lyle, but I'll take it. This company had enough time to see what I was like, and still hired me, curmudgeonly behavior and all. Who knew?


  1. What's funny is, after ten years in advertising, I realize that doing your job well isn't what the Corporation wants. It wanst you to make it look good, be pretty, compliant and quiet.

    Independent thinking is for the wealthy... all the rest of you serfs, shut up and back to work.

    (But congratulations on new work!)

  2. Ask some of the "Old Hats" around here about some of the stranger samples they've had to run ... there's one story I remember about a fellow coming in with, get this, his briefcase actually *handcuffed* to his wrist ... I think that was ash samples from the shuttle explosion ... and there's the time we did samples from the suspected "Ark Discovery" ... we get all kinds here.

  3. Yaguari, that is SO COOL!!!!!!!!!!

    I knew someone who worked for the NSA. He/she had to analyze ("decode") documents that had been gathered from "the field." The "field" that they had been dumped in? Was a latrine. EWWWWWW!!!!