Ecolab Sucks | 11/23/04
Rather than spending another entry complaining about my job, I figured I'd burn this entry by sharing at least one story about a former job. Bear in mind, I had just turned 17 so some of the details might be kind of hazy (read: made-up).
The summer of 1997 I worked for an EcoLab in Illinois. It was through Manpower and it was my second temp job, my first one doing data entry for a day or two for the Plainfield Sun. They told me I'd be doing administrative things since I had such stellar computer skills. When I got there I found my new boss was a minor league pitcher for the Oakland Athletics. He had pictures of himself playing ball all over his office and I was determined to impress him. He told him that I was going to be an "efficiency expert". I had no idea what that meant but I figured since "expert" was part of the title it couldn't be all bad. Oh, but it was. He brought me down to the main plant before explaining what I was to do. My eyes watered in the chemical-laden air as he informed me I was to follow around various employees with a clipboard and digital stopwatch, timing them every time they did anything other than crank out Lime-Away. He then introduced me to the first woman I was to monitor, this puffy Hispanic woman named Carmella. Carmella was about 40 and clad in a Mickey Mouse T-shirt and white jeans. Even now I get a good laugh when I see a shirt with Disney characters popping out of the breast pockets but this was different. It wasn't a "aren't I cute white trash" look but a "my God, my life can't get any worse" look. After our introduction the pitcher left and I stood there with Carmella looking at me. She stared me down for a while until I innocently asked if I should be writing down this time as "non-work".
After a few days of doing this and her receiving what seemed to be a motivational speech by our Cy Young daily she decided she was going to make my life a living hell. She took to making it a point to walk over to me every time she had to do anything--cough, sneeze, scratch herself, whatever and say, "Hey skinny, you get that one?" or after stretching her arms as she yawned, "Hey tiny, I only stretch for 20 seconds and you write 30 seconds". Her English was not great but my broken Spanish was able to translate enough to know I should just stop coming to work. Within a week of working there she had ensured no one would talk to me and I gave in and just stopped writing down anything at all.
Since obviously I was the most hated member of the 300 person staff I sat by myself every day at lunch. While no one spat on me, the only time anyone talked to me in three months was when I was sipping my Barq's Root Beer and some mix operator walked over to me, slapped his hands down on the table across from me, put his face about an inch from mine and said quietly, "straws are for p*ssies" before walking away.
By the end of month two, I had taken to not writing anything down at all except bathroom trips. This seemed to cease people handing plastic bottles of mysterious colored liquids with small holes in the bottom to me. One of the last people I was to watch was a batch mixer named (no really) Charles. Charles had a disfigured left hand and loved the band Styx. Never having listened to popular music growing up, I agreed that Styx was indeed the greatest band ever. Being as squeamish as I am now, I could never really look directly at The Hand but from the quick glimpses I took, it kind of looked like a gnarled branch. Charles was nice enough until he asked me what my favorite Styx song was. Apparently my answer of..."gee, they're all so good" was only good enough until he decided we were going to sing a song together while the mixture settled. He asked me what song I wanted to sing. I informed him that as a drummer I'd be better of backing him on drum set while he sang. He agreed on the condition that I'd sing back-up. He elected for us to perform "Lady" for all the other batch mixers. Foolishly, I started right in with a drum beat. I don't think he even got a word out before he stopped me and asked what the hell I was doing. I'm sure I blushed knowing the inevitable question was coming: Name ANY Styx song. With his mangled nub in my face like a zombie-microphone I figured I'd try a guess. I can't remember what exactly I guessed but apparently was it not only NOT a Styx song it was similar enough to the title of some .38 Special that he stopped talking to me all together.
What's sad, is that I'd rather be doing that again than working where am I now. I didn't appreciate how nice it was to have no one talk to you at work.