Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oh What a Night

I'm beginning to think that the arrival of the summer students at work, and by that I mean ME, has inflicted some kind of voodoo curse on Cominco. My very first day of shift work had two incidences. First, there was a fire on one of the Electrolytic machines which is only about 20 feet from where I work. The shift supervisor came over and told me there was a fire and just to go get my respirator...so I did. Then I just went about my work as though nothing was going on, meanwhile the firefighters are combating fire just across the way. No biggie. About 10 minutes after the flame and smoke subsided and I took off the respirator, one of the furnaces started smoking so badly that my eyes were burning and my skin stung a bit...so I decided it might be smart to put the respirator back on. This smoke continued for about an hour or so and it really stunk and just made the environment not fun to work in. I found out a few hour later that some aluminum had gotten dumped into the furnace along with the zinc which caused some major smokage. Apparently it was that awesome kind of aluminum that has been proven to cause Alzheimer's. Good to know I was breathing that stuff in for a while...I'm pretty sure that I gained some brain plaques and tangles from that experience.

So last night during my night shift there were a couple incidences as well which further lead me to believe that I am a stroke of bad luck to the company. Around 11:45 (I only know the time because it was directly before my lunch break), there was a power outage at the plant. What made the matter even greater is that the headlamp on my forklift is broken so I couldn't see where I was going so I had to park in the dark until my coworker came and found me. Apparently there have been guys who have worked up there forever and ever, and have never seen the power go out. Finally when the power did kick back on, it was time for lunch!

When we got to the lunchroom, it was a bit eerie because there was no one in there. Normally when we arrive there are lots of guys hanging around (or napping), but today there was no one. About 10 minutes into lunch, one of the regular guys came in and explained that the plant is in chaos because of the power outage and crazy stuff was happening all over the place. Eventually the rest of the guys started trickling in...most of them covered in sweat and frustration. About 10 minutes after that, one guy came in announcing that one of the new guys had pushed one of the jumbos (HUGE slab of zinc) over a wall and onto a scale, and now the scale was decreasing in weight whenever you add something to it. If I know one thing in this world, it's that recalibrating a scale is no fun, so I can't imagine what it will be like for the poor guy who had to fix that scale today.

The rest of the shift went fairly smoothly. One of the guys (actually the new guy who pushed the jumbo off the wall), accidentally took my hard hat and safety glasses from the hook wall so someone had to go off and find him while I waited around for my safety gear. Oh what a night....(late December back in '63, what a very special time for me, 'cause I remember what a night).

Tip of the Day: New guys who have only driven a forklift once or twice should never be allowed to carry jumbos around. Especially at 3 in the morning.

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