Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Industrial Action Aftermath.


It is now almost 3am and my sleep cycles are totally unstable again. I have to go to work in under 4 hours (7am) and I am so going to be so miserably sleep-deprived tomorrow.

I found temporary work at a electronics assembly plant doing production type work (hand population, assembly, soldering, inspection test, etc). Casual work - via an agency I earlier registered with - means the assignment could last anywhere from two days, to two weeks, to two months, or two years. There is just no way of knowing. At least it is a nice safe well-lit work environment where the greatest industrial hazard would be a puncture wound from careless handling of sharp electronics components, or maybe a hot solder burn. The fatality odds are certainly better than being crushed by a falling tree, or squished by a big skidding truck, or driving off the road in the blinding rain. Plus I get even get scheduled morning break, lunch break and free coffee thrown in. (No free pizza, though.)

The job is brain-numbing repetitively boring. And terribly tedious. I sing stupid counting songs in my head, let my imagination roam, work out permutations (e.g. how many ways to possibly make a mistake following the very detailed work instructions).. anything to keep from slipping into the braindead zone that totally saps emotional energy. And I have to remind myself to remember to be grateful to be in a temperature-controlled factory floor where a runaway transport cart would at the very worst only give me a nasty bruise.

Pizza delivery driver to brain-dead factory production worker. Guess it has got to be a promotion of sorts. When you are so close to the bottom, any direction has got to be upwards. And at the very least I do not have to work in 95kmph winds and rain.


***


Surprisingly, it would seem that I still have a job at the big pizza place. Even after the events of yesterday. The store manager on duty called me up like clockwork, asking if I wanted a shift since they were short on drivers prepared to work this terrible weather.

When I declined the opportunity, the offer for any work hours on the days of my choosing was reiterated. It is unlikely that the store managers do not talk in such a close-knit environment. My defiant refusal to work the storm conditions yesterday (in front of the owners) must be public news by now. I suppose they must be really short on reliable drivers. I am going to put this one on the backburner to think about. I enjoy the social company and comardeship of that team and am going to miss them. However the pragmatic side of me prompts harshly that social company, comardship and even the gratitude of hungry folks towards hot pizza - are not valid currency to buy food, pay the rent, or buy fuel.

I am going to continue working at the independent small pizza place though, since it is still currently my only source of stable income. It is not very hard work anyway, and the owner is hardly a very driven person (at the moment). He makes enough to cover his costs, pay his workers and enough for his expenses and a bit over for his luxuries. And he has no qualms of closing early. Interestingly, he used to run his own team working for a car dealership. [ #insert obligatory snide remark about used-car salesmen ]. And used to make 80k a year doing it, before he got tired of it all and decided to buy the pizza-place where he used to work in his teenage years doing pizza delivery work.

He is an interesting character in his 40s indeed. And I look forward to hearing more of his life story and experiences. And watching him drive his souped-up Hyundai. He drives like a insane madman on stimulants - probably a leftover skill from his early days working as a courier.


***


Nobody bothered to look up what I did with the leftover money I had from that unthinking fortnight at the big pizza place?

TDT D10 97B is the Western Australian certification to operate a forklift.

Believe it or not, this mechanical klutz is now legally qualified to operate a forklift in this part of the world.

I was pleasantly surprised to be able to get through the course without flunking out, given my poor hand-eye coordination skills. It was a tough few days, learning to operate a forklift in the day hours while doing long shifts delivering pizza at night. Driving a forklift feels like driving a very powerful car with an extremely sluggish ass that threatens to fishtail out of control with every move that you make. And trying to move thousands of kilograms safely without crushing, killing, squishing anybody (myself included) while not taking out any support pillars in the building either. I shudder to think of the damage that a runaway forklift can do - given the sheer mechanical power of that thing. Assuming the unstable forklift does not tip over first and kill the operator. (Which by the way is the number one cause of forklift operator fatalities.)

No clue how much use the fork ticket is going to be, as nobody is likely to trust hire a fork driver with no prior experience. Getting commercial experience on a fork would probably be the biggest challenge. Will think about approaches to crack this deadlock as I go along. I reckon fork drivers are going to make more money than pizza drivers, only if I can get some commercial experience.


13 Comments:

Blogger E said...

out of curiosity, what's your educational background, and what sort of work are you looking for? Only if you don't mind sharing, of course...

September 07, 2005 2:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would you write a piece on what made (especially) you go take that forklift course and exam ? guess nobody, at least not your follow countrymen, would bat an eyelid if it is pilot or powerboat license ...

September 07, 2005 11:21 AM  
Blogger Amazonian said...

You are the first person I personally know who has a forklift driving license.

What now?

Forklifting tonnes of pizzas to whole suburbs at one go?

Cool man.

Man, your scribes are bloody inspiring.

September 07, 2005 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps to get a job as forklift operator, you might wanna try working for a company that does logistics? Start as something else, show that you are trustworthy, and then mention to your boss that you also have a forklift license?

September 07, 2005 12:18 PM  
Anonymous bohemianlisa said...

You are having fun over there, KoP!

One day pizza delivery, one day making snoppy your photography model, then becomes a "forklifter" (er, is that even the correct word?) and assembler.

September 07, 2005 12:23 PM  
Blogger C said...

My sympathies on the late hours. I start work at the same time, and on sleeping a bit past 12 screws me majorly in the daytime, nevermind a couple of hours from when i'm supposed to wake up.

Here's hoping your day didn't go too hard, and that you get your sleeping back in gear!

September 07, 2005 9:25 PM  
Anonymous tangawizi said...

Any thoughts abt setting up your own little business a-la-independent-pizza owner-living-in-tao? Dont' get too sucked into a mindless routine for too many months. Stay well, fren.

- wizi

September 07, 2005 10:04 PM  
Blogger Calamity Man said...

i wanna get my ass down there where you are and do the things you do man.

you da man!

September 08, 2005 1:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the best, you'll make it. Hope you don't think all Singaporeans treat their workers so shabbily, I know of many employers with a heart.

September 09, 2005 4:56 PM  
Blogger the virgin undergrad said...

it is always easier to succumb to the cowardice innate in everyone of us, deceiving ourselves with the false comforts of certainty while resigning ourselves to the status-quo no matter how embittered it may be.

i have huge respect for what you did, for you mustered you moral courage to do what you felt was conscionable not only to the store manager but more pertinently to yourself. it's one of those things which most people never find in their entire lifetime, me included.

on a side note, have u checked out the community newspapers like the subiaco post or the western suburbs weekly? cos' sometimes the smaller and community-based enterprises usually publish their recruiment ads on these publications rather than seeking a recruitment agency? it might offer you the perfect employment outlet that you're looking for.

cheers mate,
Junyi.

September 09, 2005 10:31 PM  
Blogger the virgin undergrad said...

Hey dude,

i saw the comment regarding one of ur previous posts regarding u being a former JC and tertiary debater. i found that post regarding ur 'Childhood Travels' and u mentioned how u did quite a bit of travelling during ur debating days. were u part of the world schools team back in JC then?

i did a fair share of competitive debating back in sch and i'm still pretty much a struggling one in university now unfortunately. with regards to what u wrote in that previous post about how
' debating ...was one of the few bright spots in a generally miserable existence in the conformist Singapore formal education system ', unfortunately, bureaucratic cowardice and the singapore-bred self-censorship culture has permeated the debating scene since u left. About 2 years ago, during the 2003 Australs held in KL, one singaporean debater from Nanyang polytechnic broke into the grand final for the public speaking segment after making a speech constrasting the similarities between The Matrix and the Singapore Government.

apparantly the speech was deemed too offensive and too inappropriate by the teacher accompanying the NYP contingent who reported the student's supposed 'disdemeanor' to the Poly administration. eventually, student involved was forced to withdraw from the grand final and the entire contingent left before the end of the tournament under an implicit threat of expulsion if they did not comply with the school's instructions.

Junyi

September 09, 2005 10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a smart person, surely you can find better work?

September 10, 2005 9:15 AM  
Blogger KnightofPentacles said...

E:
My educational background is in IT. I spent years working for large datacomms equipment manufacturers, doing the technical sell of solutions into Asia Pacific telecommunication operators.

tangawizi:
Not anytime soon. Perhaps later in life. Running a pizza place (even if I could afford to buy one) is way too much hard work for a person as lazy as me.

Junyi:
That culture is going to pervade thoughout all aspects of a society unfortunately.

anonymous:
better work depends a lot on the yardstick you are measuring better with. Work that feeds the body but starves the soul may not be better.

All:
I appreciate all your comments, and please do not be slighted if I am unable to address every single comment individually.

September 15, 2005 2:21 PM  

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