Finishing thoughts

Now that I have thoroughly cleaned my Macbook keyboard, track pad, and snow-white case with strong ink-remover solvent, it is time to commence with the blogging!

(Note to Apple: That official-looking text printed on the bottom of a Macbook comes right off when attacked with ink-removing solvent.)

Man, that is strong stuff. Officially it’s called hydrolon, but all the guys around me refer to it as gasoline. That’s right - I may be soaking rags in pure gasoline to clean machine parts. It could be kerosene I suppose, or perhaps even pure alcohol, but that doesn’t really make me feel any better. I am at work right now. The machine I am assigned to has run out of ink. As you can imagine, without ink we cannot print, so I am relegated to do nothing and have chosen to take the opportunity to blog. I do this tentatively, never knowing when ink might show up and I will be whisked away to stack palates and change rolls (called ‘webs’ in the industry) of paper.

Summer is coming to an end and, with it, the end of my part-time job here at NLL. It has been a great couple of months spent learning, sweating, smiling, and making friends. Making money was a big part of it too, I suppose.

Despite the repetitive nature of the menial tasks assigned me, I still leave with good memories and having grown up a lot. I was pleasantly surprised by the attitude and work ethic of all of my co-workers. They proved to be very good role models for me; people whom I would do well to emulate.

Mr. A, a twenty-year veteran of the company, is head of the printing division. He is in charge of all four of our machines and covers every aspect of the printing process, from ordering from suppliers to making sure the machines run without a hitch in the course of preparing our product. A well-dressed Indian man, he is extremely organized, knows these multi-million dollar machines in and out, and is very skilled at people management. Any disgruntled employee is paid heed to with grace and understanding.

Mr. S is a diligent printer who has been playing guitar for over twenty years and wishes to become a professional musician. He is nonetheless extremely knowledgeable about printing and takes it upon himself to do any work that he sees needs to be done, whether it is his job or not.

G, the Nigerian man who I mentioned in this post, has learned a lot even since I’ve been here. He perseveres like crazy often staying hours late to fix problems caused by his inexperience. He is eager to learn, and always comes to work with a smile on his face.

Mr. T (who doesn’t even remotely resemble the famous Mohawk-sporting actor) is dedicated almost to a fault. He lives upstairs in one of the dorm rooms like I do, and will often come downstairs even while off shift to help out. He also has made quite a few modifications to the machines including connecting a paper counter to ease packing bundle calculation, and installing a webcam to get a good view of the paper chopper (Short explanation: paper coming out of the machine is folded once, then folded a second time by the chopper. The chopper folds, perforates, and moves the paper along to the conveyor by which it exits the machine. The chopper can be a common point for paper to jam and stop the machine, and must be closely monitored.) He speaks good English, builds his own computers, and prefers Linux.

Mr. M is an extremely quiet man who works well behind the scenes. Extremely quiet is perhaps an understatement – I have never had a conversation with him lasting more than three exchanges. He is I guess what the Japanese people would call an otaku of the printing profession. He is meticulous and calculating, tending to the machine much like a mother duck cares for its ducklings.

Mr. K is a German fellow who has been here fifteen years. He came as a part-time worker for a year but came back the next year and before he knew it was permanent staffer of ten years. He speaks decent English, but very little Japanese. Ironically he is married to a Japanese gal who speaks almost no German– they communicate in English.

These are just a few of the people that I have had the pleasure of working with. I have learned a great deal from them and am very glad that God decided to put me in this environment to spend my summer.

The aforementioned chopper - apparently a ‘hand lubrication chopper’.