I described my first job as sampling raw materials and that did take the majority of my time but I also sampled products mid-production. The lab would test them and sometimes an adjustment would be made.
To take the sample, I used a long stainless steel rod with a cylindrical receptacle welded to the end. It could be tricky at times to manage the long sampler and tip the contents into a small glass jar but I got the knack of it after a few tries.
One of the products we made was shaving cream and it was a bit unusual as it was made under vacuum. I don't know the exact methodology but the ingredients were placed in a vast stainless steel tank, the port was shut and vacuum was applied while the stirrer mixed everything.
On this day, the ladies on the packaging line started getting cuts on their hands. It wasn't random, they were all getting cuts There seemed to be something in the shaving cream that was cutting through the tubes as they were handled to put caps on.
I was called to take more samples and then the awful truth became clear. The lab confirmed that there were glass shards in the shaving cream. My boss asked if I could have possibly dropped a glass jar in the cream and not said anything. No, I assured him I had not.
At this stage, I had barely turned 18 and I was a little thing at just over 50kg. My boss, a good six foot and overweight was nearing 40 years old. I didn't think too highly of him but I didn't have a lot bad to say, either. He was just a figure who sat in his office looking angry and harassed. His almost daily shouting matches with the production supervisor were well known and if I'd been a little more savvy I might have realised that this meant neither of them had any significant leadership skills.
I went about my day. As the lowest ranking laboratory person, the issue of the broken glass was not something I needed to think about.
At some point I went to the warehouse under the building. It was a concrete cavern with a low roof and dim lighting. Only one man worked in there and he was often outside loading or unloading a truck.
Suddenly my boss roared out of the gloom to outright accuse me of throwing a sample jar into the shaving cream. This huge man was right in front of me, towering threateningly and well inside my personal space. He started telling me what might happen if a member of the public was cut by the glass I had thrown into the mixer. His fury and frustration were palpable.
It was scary and confronting but I held my ground. I knew I didnt do it and I asked him how the glass in the shaving cream was green when the jars I used were "water white"
Eventually, somebody realised that the viewing port into the mixer was green glass. It was also double glazed. The inner glass had been sucked from it's fastening and then ground into the product by the mixer while the outside piece of glass remained firm. The tank looked unchanged.
Even though the confrontation happened privately, everyone knew that my boss would have been happy to pin it on me and not investigate the real cause. I still remember the apology, he was washing his hands and he removed his watch and placed it on the edge of the sink, taking care not to look at me as he scrubbed his wrists and fussed with his cuffs. It was not sufficient to make up for what had happened but I didn't know how to respond and so I mumbled that it was ok and disappeared as fast as I could.
Woeful as it was, at least he realised that he should apologise. Many did not/do not.ReplyDelete
How much longer did you last in that job?
I was there for a year. I think this might have been about half way through. I was less bothered about the accusation than the frighteninng way it was done. Long time ago, nowDelete
That's one of those very stressful life situations which we are not responsible for. Great post.ReplyDelete
If anyone was to blame, it was the maintenance crew but overall it was just a confusing, unforseen eventDelete
That was an interesting job you had. That man sounds scary to a young woman. I have had my share of mean and frightening bosses. It seems you found the problem when the guy should be the one with solutions.ReplyDelete
I didn't find the solution, I was part way there. He definitely was the one had the responsible for a proper investigation.Delete
That was some seriously bad form by the boss.ReplyDelete
I hope things have changed in the intervening decades but I suspect that kind of nonsense is still happeningDelete
You poor thing. I admire you for pointing out the colour of the glass and putting the boss straight.ReplyDelete
It does sound like a very interesting job.
All my jobs have been interesting in one way or another. I do sort of miss science.Delete
I can relate Kylie. I had some awful bosses in my time. Tiny men with large egos mainly. I use tiny for their personalities which was wet porridge until roaring gave them stature of some kind. Intimidating. Your boss at least apologised. Most do not but find another sideroad to attack as in "you should have spotted the broken porthole sooner" etc.ReplyDelete
But still a fearful atmosphere in which to work.
My bosses have mostly been neutral kind of people who didnt make a lot of impact on me. I wonder how I would assess this guy now, I think he was a bit out of his depth. I'm glad he didn't attack me further, I feel like he might have if he hadn't known everybody was paying attention.Delete
How perverse that he simply didn't trust you when you said the glass shards were nothing to do with you. I guess he just wanted some instant scapegoat rather than doing some proper investigating.ReplyDelete
That's right. the whole thing had him stumped so why not blame it on the kidDelete